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ReadingLists@UCL pop-up guidance: coming soon!

By Nick Forbes, on 12 September 2022

With the new academic year almost upon us, many academic and support staff will be working on getting reading lists ready for the start of term. This might feel like a daunting task at this very busy time of year. Particularly for those of you who are new to ReadingLists@UCL, or who may not have used it for some time.

We are therefore delighted to announce that on Friday 16th September a series of new ‘onboarding guides’ will be going live on ReadingLists@UCL. This will mean that when you visit ReadingLists@UCL to work on a reading list, you will be offered a series of short (~2-min) pop-up videos taking you through the key features of the system. These will cover:

  • editing and organising your list;
  • structuring your list;
  • adding resources to your list;
  • adding library and student notes on list items;
  • publishing your list.

The idea is to provide guidance on the key elements of ReadingLists@UCL at the point it’s needed most (i.e. when you’re working on a list!). These unobtrusive pop-up guides will only be visible to academic and faculty staff, and they can be “snoozed” or even switched off entirely if you don’t want to see them.

This new feature will sit alongside the existing range of existing support and guidance around reading lists, including:

  • the ReadingLists@UCL Libguide, which sets out in detail how to create and update your lists and embed them in Moodle;
  • the Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) webpages, which outlines the many different services available from TLS, including the course readings service and copyright support; and
  • personalised support delivered by the TLS team: whether you want a complete run-through of the system or just want a reminder on how to add a weblink, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you have any questions at all about this new feature, or indeed about anything relating to reading lists, please don’t hesitate to email us at readinglists@ucl.ac.uk.

Image credit: “Books HD” by Abee5, licensed under CC BY 2.0

A varied reading diet: Liberating your list

By Hazel M Ingrey, on 8 September 2022

In nutrition, one school of thought prefers to add variety into one’s diet, for example eating ‘a rainbow’ of fruit and vegetables, rather than demonising ‘bad’ foods by recommending a decrease in fat / sugar consumption.  This approach balances out the less nutritious ingredients without the need to exclude any food groups.

Licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/44176993@N03/8567619056 ; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse

“Muffin Tin Monday – rainbow of food for St. Patrick’s Day” by anotherlunch.com

As in good nutrition, so with a varied reading diet.  If you are reading a little more literature by African authors, or texts taking a social model of disability approach, you may have less room for Eurocentric, male-dominated or white-biased views.

Recent newspaper articles show that what one person thinks a varied diet, another considers censorship or blacklisting of literature.  As a profession librarians are ethically opposed to censorship and UK HEIs have not banned any books.  There has however been a student-led movement in Liberating, Decolonising, broadening or diversifying curriculum and institutions, that teaching departments and libraries have engaged with to varying degrees.  Reading lists are a small part of this, but can be a key, tangible window on course content, so is often an accessible first step in reviewing a module.

In the news articles, trigger or content warnings are conflated with discouraging reading, or even censorship of texts.  If you use content warnings on your reading lists you may not agree that this is a logical conclusion.  Content warnings can look like metadata: that is, data about data.  Keywords to help the reader navigate a list of resources, rather than limiting access to them. Indeed adding notes is something we encourage as best practice when setting readings, to set context and expectation.

We will shortly be publishing some suggestions on how you might use your reading list to evaluate module content through through a liberated lens. Involving student collaborators in this work can develop their information literacy skills as they assist in evaluating readings, and also add variety to your module readings, benefitting from the multiple backgrounds and experiences of the student body.

The canon is still there, in both reading lists and library: nobody has lost any literature.  But an outcome of learning how to evaluate their reading diet is that students develop better critical appraisal skills in their research and reading.  An environment of polarised opinion only hinders this progress.  Now isn’t that headline news?

 

Scaffolding vs Spoon feeding

By Hazel M Ingrey, on 10 August 2022

One argument against providing core readings, or a reading list, has been the anxiety of ‘spoon feeding’. That is, coddling your students by providing everything they need, so they are too comfortable to step forward into their own research or wider reading.

Green baby spoon, broken across the middle, on a wooden table.

Spoonfeeding

Naturally, you can instead use the reading list to your advantage and find the optimal balance of ensuring access for essential set texts or resources, whilst also encouraging students into independent reading.

This is sometimes referred to as ‘scaffolding’, where you structure readings and commentary to help familiarise students with a subject (or databases, or libraries).  You can then guide them to related tasks or research questions where they need to use these resources.  You could even teach some core information literacy skills along the way.

The imaginative go further. Some years ago an academic told us how she used her reading list in the first face-to-face class of the year, setting tasks that required using the list. Not only were the lists used as a pedagogic tool, but it also created familiarity and engagement so students continued to use their reading lists, and with confidence, throughout the year.

Ultimately your reading list is a flexible tool, to be utilised in any way you like, to help your students understand how to read and research online.

 

Reading list rollover 22/23

By Nick Forbes, on 18 July 2022

The 2022 ReadingLists@UCL “rollover” process is now complete!Library books

What does this mean?

All 5000+ 21/22 reading lists have been copied, and these copies have been badged as 22/23. The 21/22 versions of all these lists have been archived and are now hidden from view. The result is a seamless transition from 21/22 reading lists to new 22/23 versions of those same lists, ready for the new academic year.

What impact will this have on my reading list?

Your 22/23 list is identical to the 21/22 version as at the rollover date (14th July). So when you search for your list in ReadingLists@UCL everything will be the same as you remember it – with the sole difference being that it’s marked as 22/23 rather than 21/22! You can just continue to make changes to it as normal, and published lists will also be visible to students as normal.

Do my digitised readings also roll forward?

Yes, for the most part these will all roll forward into 22/23 and will continue to function as normal.

The only exception to this is digitised readings where we’ve had to request permission directly from the copyright holder (e.g. the publisher), rather than use our institutional CLA licence. This applies to the very small number of readings that aren’t covered by our CLA licence. The link to these readings may temporarily break as at rollover, and we at TLS need to request fresh permission for the coming year for these. Once we have this we will reinstate those links. This is a routine task that we do over the summer each year, and we will be in touch if your readings are affected.

What if I or my students need access to the 21/22 version of the list?

If you ever need to refer back to your 21/22 list for any reason please let us know. We can recover it from the archive if necessary.

Where can I find further support?

General advice and guidance on reading lists can be found on the ReadingLists@UCL Libguide.

If you have any questions about the rollover process, or have any questions on anything to do with reading lists at UCL, please drop us a line.

We also offer informal in-person sessions (either over Teams or in person), where you can refresh your knowledge of any aspect of ReadingLists@UCL with an expert member of the TLS team. Interested? Send us an email and we’ll arrange a session.

If you want to set up a new reading list please complete this webform and we’ll set it up for you.

Technical updates!

By Hazel M Ingrey, on 22 June 2022

There are some small changes coming to reading lists that we want to let you know about in advance.

Some rights reserved https://www.flickr.com/photos/ramnaganat/7346166054/ ; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

 

Bookmarking button

Some browsers are increasingly not working well with the ‘Bookmarking button’, which is used to harvest metadata for your online reading list.  For some years an alternative ‘bookmarklet extension’ has been available which is supported by newer browsers like Edge.  The bookmarklet extension is available for Edge, Chrome and Firefox browsers.  In some browsers you are able to create your own shortcut using a keystroke rather than a mouse click on the icon.

In a week or so you will begin to notice a pop up when you edit a reading list.  It will offer a prompt to use the new bookmark extension, which you can dismiss or ask to be reminded later.  You are welcome to use both or either bookmarking options: the existing bookmark button will continue to be available.  More detailed information can be found in the support article ‘Installing and using a bookmarklet extension’.

 

Upgrade to Moodle-ReadingLists@UCL integration

This upgrade (called LTI 1.3) will improve security and allow changes to improve the annual rollover: in practice this will negate the need for annual maintenance of links embedded in Moodle.  This upgrade is still in Beta testing but we will update here when there is more news.

 

We love to hear feedback on the service and any suggestions for development that would help you.  Please send comments to the ReadingLists@UCL email or use the ‘Feedback’ button at the top of ReadingLists@UCL.

Reading List of the month

By Hazel M Ingrey, on 9 June 2022

Do you have a lovely reading list that deserves some applause? Or know a colleague’s reading list that is a neat exemplar?  A community of UK university librarians, who work with reading lists using the same software, put forward their most esteemed reading lists to be ‘reading list of the month’.  The winner is chosen by Talis, the software creator.

This month’s list is Children’s Literature Through the Ages by Mathew Tobin from Oxford Brookes University.  My favourite feature is the introduction video which explains the structure of the list and how to make the most of using it.  It is immediately engaging, shows how to navigate from Moodle to the list, and addresses print vs electronic sourcing.  The list demonstrates many of the excellent points we recommend in our ReadingLists@UCL Best Practice guide: it is clearly structured,  readings are signposted as ‘Essential’ or ‘Recommended’, and annotations (‘student notes’) enrich the student’s understanding of the resource.

If this inspires you to update your list for the new academic year, let us know and we’ll happily put your list forward to be a top list next time!  If you need any help with your reading list, or have questions around purchasing new resources, please don’t hesitate to get in touch (email).

 

Come for the owl postcards, stay for the range of services

By Nick Forbes, on 3 May 2022

Ever asked yourself the question, “How can I make my course readings accessible”?

Well, this is exactly the question the TLS team set out to answer at the lunchtime marketplace session at the recent 2022 UCL Education Conference.

We were thrilled to be able to attend the event, as this was a fantastic opportunity for us to get out there and talk to people about our services, whether it’s ReadingLists@UCL, course readings digitisation, or our copyright support services. As a user-focused team it’s essential that we engage with the academic community to understand how we can best support their teaching and learning activities. So this was also a brilliant opportunity to hear from lots of different staff and students, and learn more about how we can support them in getting the most out of their teaching.

A particularly pleasant surprise was the sheer range of people who came to speak to us – and the range of topics they were interested in! We had queries from UCL academics and PhD students about setting up reading lists, many of whom wanted to know more about how to replace document-based reading lists with online lists. As well as talking them through it, we ran a couple of demos of the ReadingLists@UCL service on our laptop. This is something we’re always happy to do, so get in touch if you want to arrange a virtual session!

We also had lots of queries about copyright issues. These mostly came either from academics teaching PhD research skills, or from PhD students interested in the copyright rules affecting their theses (e.g. the copyright status of photographs they wanted to include). We explained the tailored support and advice we could offer in this area, and our Copyright for PHD Students leaflets went like hotcakes!

Someone asked us whether films held on DVD can be converted to streams for inclusion on online reading lists (answer: they usually can!). And lots of people just wanted to know more about what TLS did in general – so we were happy to tell them. We also had a really interesting discussion with a couple of students about accessibility, and the many ways TLS services support this important area.

So in all this was a brilliant opportunity to get out and about and speak to people, promote awareness of TLS and our services, and learn more about what’s on people’s minds when it comes to things like course readings and copyright. The pandemic has made it harder to engage with the academic community – while at the same time increasing the need for support for remote learning. So being able go to an in-person event again was brilliant. Looking forward to the next one!

Reading List rollover

By Pamela Clarke, on 21 June 2021

Each summer the reading lists have a new copy made for the new academic year, much like the Moodle snapshot. This year the rollover is scheduled for the evening of Monday 5th July 2020. From about 5pm that day:

  • Reading lists for 2020-21 will have an exact copy made for 2021-22, which will publish immediately.
  • The old version (2020-21) will archive, which means it will disappear from public view but can be found and re-used in future years if needed.
  • Students will have continuous access to their reading lists: there is no down time for viewing lists.
  • Editing rights remain constant, so list editors are able to edit the new lists as soon as they appear.
  • Lists already set up as 2021-2022 will be unaffected by the rollover.

Please note

  • Unpublished changes will not copy forward into the new list: please publish your lists before 5pm 4th July if you wish your updates to be carried forward.
  • We suggest you stop editing reading lists before 5pm on 4th July, and continue editing when you can see it has the 2021-22 date stamp – certainly from the next morning Tuesday 6th July, if not sooner.
  • The Moodle ‘Library resources’ block needs no maintenance and will continue to link to the most recent year’s list. The optional integration ‘Reading list items’ requires checking and possibly some re-linking of resources, particularly after the reading list has been updated for the new year.
  • To have old courses archived, new lists set up, or current module names amended, email us your requests!
  • It is possible that students may need access to the 2020-21 reading list. This is possible, and they are advised to follow these steps.

Support

Do you need a refresher on how to edit and manage your lists?  The ReadingLists@UCL webpages have online quick guides including short videos, and FAQs. Though working remotely, the TLS team still offer 1:1 set up and refresher training through Teams. Get in touch and you could walk away with a new list set up and ready to go, have guidance on how to link to non-standard resources, or find out how to embed reading lists in Moodle.

Accessing your old reading list

By Pamela Clarke, on 21 June 2021

Each year, the online reading lists for all modules rollover so that a new version for the next academic year can be made available. Students may need to consult an older version of their reading list for revision, if they are involved in Late Summer Assessements

The reading list rollover on 5th July means that the 2020-21 reading lists will archive.  From 6th July the lists available to view will be the new lists for academic year 2021-20;  these are available to update immediately for the new session.

If you are aware of students who may need access to the 2020-21 version of the lists:

  • students can take a copy of the list by using the ‘View & Export’ button – before 5pm on 4th July
  • or save the URL of the list, which will continue to work even after the list is archived
  • or if a list has already archived, let us know that it needs to be revived, and we can do this.

The Exam papers archive remains available all year round, and the papers can also be searched for via Explore, the library catalogue.  Students will need to log in with their UCL ID when accessing these from off campus

Rollover complete!

By Hazel M Ingrey, on 14 July 2020

The rollover is complete! All your 2019-20 reading lists have been archived and a copy created for 2020-21, which you can edit straight away.

  • If modules are not running this year, please let us know so we can archive the list. This hides it from view to avoid confusion and also saves it for future re-use.
  • To set up new lists get in touch or see our Getting Started help.Image: review, edit, publish

Over the summer you can prepare your reading lists for the new academic year: you just need to review, edit and publish!

 

Do my digitised readings also roll forward?

When your new list is created, the digitised readings (digitised under the CLA licence and added to your list by the TLS team) also copy forward.  There is a separate, behind-the-scenes process in June where the readings are re-checked automatically for the coming year. If your module is not running let us know so we can archive the digitised readings, ready for another year.

If any digitised readings were not digitised under the CLA licence, but instead had direct copyright permission granted then the links to these readings will temporarily break.  TLS need to re-request copyright permission for the coming year and re-instate the links to the digital reading.  This is a task that TLS does annually and they will be in touch if your readings are affected.

 

And finally don’t forget the editing interface is being updated on 16th July.  See the Editing Interface Upgrade blog post for more details.