Stanford University Libraries

Short Course: Advantages, Disadvantages and Considerations

Definition of Short Course or Seminar Series: multiple lectures given during short period of time (1-2 weeks) on a focused set of topics.


  • Instructor is able to teach modules that build upon one another
  • Users gain more expertise than is possible from a single workshop
  • Consolidated block of time helps focus users attention on seminar topic
  • Teaching a group (e.g. class, lab group) help builds peer support network
  • Users learn skills that they can apply immediately to real information problems


  • Schedule conflicts hard to avoid.
  • May have to offer multiple times, depending on topic and how ofter user population turns over
  • Preparation and teaching takes a lot of hard work.


  • Need to decide what teaching formats provide the “biggest bang for the buck”
  • Offer during Intersession or Summer (slow times) in response to a course being taught or to a special set of information needs
  • Including hands-on practice results in a higher retention rate of skills.
  • Instead of offering stand-alone seminars, work to integrate seminars into a larger organizational structure (e.g. a course being taught, new student orientation).
  • Funds for printing handouts and online access.
  • What infrastructure is needed (e.g. classroom, network access, computer equipment, etc.) ?
  • Possible to share workload by team teaching or by bringing in a guest lecturer