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Tutorials Best Practices Toolkit


The ALA Library Instruction Round Table provides a link to a Reference Guide for Instructional Design and Development from IEEE, including a description of Assessing Instructional Needs.  The purpose of the tutorial is inherent in the instructional needs identified.  

In general, here are considerations for refining the purpose of a tutorial:

  • Standalone or part of course?
  • Who does the tutorial serve?
  • Is there prerequisite knowledge required or is this an introduction?
  • What are the learning goals and objectives?


When making a decision about the format of your tutorial, consider first whether your tutorial is concept-based or demonstration-based.

  • Concept-based: Introduces a new concept, such as plagiarism.
  • Demonstration-based: Usually involves instructions on “how to,” i.e. “how to use the find it button” or “how to conduct an advanced search in a database.”

Some tutorials may be a mix of the two. If possible, consider offering your tutorial in multiple formats to accommodate a variety of learning styles of preferences. If you choose only one format, keep the following in mind:

Demonstration-based tutorials work best in formats that are self-paced, where the viewer can easily navigate back and forth at his or her own speed, skimming and reviewing as needed. These tutorials might feature text and still images to guide the learner.

Concept-based tutorials can work as either self-paced or video tutorials. Video tutorials might feature narration rather than text and animated rather than still images.


Overall, determining whether the tutorial is available at the point of need or if there is a set location for tutorials is key.  Options to consider include:

  • Embedded:  in library resource guides, in library catalog, in databases, in online course management systems or, generally, in user's environment vs. the library's environment
  • Making the tutorial available in a set location on, e.g., the library Web page
  • Making the tutorial available via an icon such as Help
  • Using a tutorial icon to identify a tutorial
  • Pushing the tutorial via e-mail or chat
  • Available via a search option to find a specific tutorial
  • Number of clicks needed to reach tutorial