High Impact Practices: Creating a 360 Library Tour in Chinese

This story originally appeared in LMU Library News on Feb. 2, 2020

As Student Engagement Librarian and member of the William H. Hannon Library’s outreach department, Ray Andrade (’04) coordinates library orientations, student programs, and tours. In Spring 2019, Ray began plans to develop a 360-degree, virtual library tour that could serve all students. However, before creating a standard tour in English, he wanted to figure out a way to work with faculty, staff, and students to create a multilingual tour to support a special population: LMU’s international community.

In addition to being Student Engagement Librarian, Ray is also the librarian liaison to Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL). In Spring 2019, he attended a MLL faculty meeting where he proposed collaborating with any interested faculty to create a multilingual 360 library tour as a class project the following fall semester. Assistant professor of Chinese, Dr. Yu Li, immediately expressed interest.

Engaging Modern Languages and Literatures: Learning Outcomes

For Dr. Li, there were at least three learning outcomes for her students:

  1. learn a “library” vocabulary in Chinese,
  2. learn to creatively use digital tools (including a 360 camera and online platform) to exhibit acquisition of a library vocabulary in Chinese, and
  3. learn to leverage digital tools to develop a 360 tour that would be useful to other speak of Chinese.

For Ray, at least three goals were clear:

  1. engage MLL students by facilitating their creation of a multilingual 360 library tour that could serve multilingual library users,
  2. create a new “high impact practice” where MLL students are given an opportunity to learn in-depth about the library’s digital and physical spaces, services, resources, and outreach programming, and
  3. provide a multilingual product from the William H. Hannon Library that contributes toward LMU’s internationalization efforts.

There was, however, a large obstacle for Dr. Li and Ray: neither of them had ever used a 360 camera.

Engaging Information Technology Services

Ray consulted Jeff Schwartz, Manager of Instructional Technology at Information Technology Services (ITS), to get recommendations for a 360 camera and to propose collaborating with ITS by using a 360 platform called ThingLink. Ray had heard about creating 360 tours with ThingLink at an American Library Association conference. Schwartz was highly interested, noting that the final product may encourage faculty in other disciplines to also incorporate 360 technology in their pedagogy. Schwartz enlisted Jeff Henline (ITS Instructional Technologist for the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts) as the best ITS team member to help move this project forward. Henline has had plenty of experience using 360 cameras.

The Planning Phase

In summer 2019, Henline, Dr. Li, and Ray tested a newly acquired Insta360 camera to capture preliminary images and video throughout the library. The camera was easy to use, and an Insta360 app made it easy to store 360 images on a smartphone for easy uploading to ThingLink. The ThingLink platform had plenty of fun features to explore, such as clickable “tags” that could be used in a wide variety of ways, including pop-up descriptions of library spaces and exhibits, links to library webpages with more information about a service or resource, and links to YouTube.

After testing and agreeing on technology, a big question surfaced: Should each student develop their own tour, or should each student contribute toward a master tour? To avoid overwhelming students, the latter was chosen as the best course of action and students were assigned to consult with Ray to present the following:

  1. A Library Overview (Ethan)
  2. The Circulation, Media, and Reserves Desk (Aris)
  3. The Information Commons (Breanna)
  4. The Information Desk (Nonju)
  5. The ITS Service Desk (Roland)
  6. The Main Stacks and Basement (Anushka)
  7. Archives & Special Collections (Col)

Ray and Henline planned a joint visit to Dr. Li’s class early in the fall semester to provide an overview of the project and introduce the technology to be used. Following the initial class visit, Ray followed up with each student via email to schedule 1-on-1 consultations, along with scheduling periodic class visits to provide project updates.

The Creative Process

The 1-on-1 consultations became perfect opportunities for Ray to engage and educate students thoroughly about their assigned library areas, with every student learning something valuable – from discovering the library’s presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, to learning how print books are organized by subject according to the U.S. Library of Congress classification system. Moreover, the students remained constantly motivated to use their creativity in sharing their new library knowledge (and new Chinese vocabulary) to serve future users of the 360 library tour. For example, every student took the unexpected initiative to create original YouTube videos featuring themselves speaking in Chinese about their assigned library area. This led to Ray and the students learning how to create and upload original Chinese transcriptions for closed captioning.

Fortunately, the students weren’t the only ones who contributed content. Dr. Li also contributed content by working alongside Instructional Design Librarian, Darlene Aguilar, to overdub high-quality voice narrations in Chinese for many videos in the “How To” series on the LMU Library YouTube channel, including

The creative process ultimately led to a 360 library tour consisting of eighteen 360 images with more than 65 interactive tags, 17 original videos (featuring Dr. Li’s students), and four “How To” videos overdubbed by Dr. Li. The library tour project and the students’ enthusiasm also inspired Dr. Li to assign a spin-off project for her students to create a 360 tour for a field trip to Chinatown. Both 360 projects were presented in class during Finals week, where students got the opportunity to wear virtual reality head gear (provided by ITS) to get an immersive experience of the library or Chinatown.

chinese class students vr scaled - High Impact Practices: Creating a 360 Library Tour in Chinese

Future Plans

Ray and Dr. Li plan to present this project at a future MLL faculty meeting to encourage adopting the creation of a multilingual 360 library tour as a class project for other languages taught in MLL, including Spanish or French (MLL’s two majors) or for other courses in German, Italian, or Japanese.

Beyond working with MLL, Ray also plans to use the Chinese 360 Library Tour as a prototype to propose collaborating with units in Student Affairs, such as the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS). During preliminary conversations, Csilla Samay, Assistant Dean for International Students and Initiatives, suggested Arabic as the next most useful language for a 360 library tour that could serve another large population of international students. Ray also plans to use the creation of a tour in English as a high impact practice to recruit and engage library student staff who work throughout the library.

To learn more about this project and other ways the William H. Hannon Library supports student academic success, contact Student Engagement Librarian, Ray Andrade.