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UCL E-learning Baseline

Hazel MIngrey7 February 2018

Some rights reserved CC BY NC https://www.flickr.com/photos/65172294@N00/8736954584 ; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

‘Tribute to Roger Ebert’ by get directly down

Our colleagues in Digital Eduction have recently been working on updating the UCL E-Learning Baseline.

The e-learning Baseline is now included in the Academic Manual, and offers a best practice template for taught courses at UCL, setting out the minimum expectations of a module.  One of the drivers is to support students who need consistent and clear information on their module, readings and assessments.

The baseline includes a requirement to have a reading list for students and recommends ReadingLists@UCL; it also clarifies that UCL policy is to have reading materials available for students 48 hours before teaching (both in section 5: Resources).

 

Providing consistency across programmes, and clarity of what reading is required, is one of the most positive feedback messages we have had from students about ReadingLists@UCL.  For some modules their reading requirements are spread over a handbook, with sometimes different or additional information in Moodle, and by email: having one consistent place to check makes their life much easier.  This also helps the library ensure books and journals are provided in time, and can translate into good feedback for your module.

Though reading lists themselves don’t have a baseline, we do run ‘Best practice’ sessions for academics.

In a Best Practice Reading Lists session last year we spoke to teaching staff in the Engineering department about recent research around how students use reading lists, and what potential barriers they find in understanding what is required of them, or accessing their essential readings in time.  All barriers are very simple to overcome, for example by using the controlled language provided by the ‘Essential’ ‘Optional’ tags on each reading; and dividing the list into sections by topic or by week needed.  Enriching your list with personal annotations really helps students understand whether you are pointing to a few readings that could be useful, or a seminal text they can’t get by without.  Some academics even like to point to readings they don’t believe have very good arguments, or are based in another library to oblige the student visit another institution: this is also helpful to make clear!

This is the Best Practice reading list of a very few resources used during our session.

Would you like a similar session for your department, or a quick 1:1 to look at your module?  Or would you find a baseline for reading lists a helpful guide?  You can reach us by email, or call or visit the TLS.

 

UCL and Talis co-hosted event

Hazel MIngrey1 December 2017

Talis Aspire and UCL eventThe ReadingLists@UCL software is provided by a company called Talis.  We have worked closely with them over the years to develop our service; feedback from UCL academics and students have led to improvements to the reading lists for everyone.

This week we co-hosted an event with Talis, attended by librarians and learning technologist from other Universities.  Some of the presentations and discussion really gave me pause for thought.

 

June Hedges reminded us that the UCL student body has more than doubled in the past ten years.  Budgets, space and resources certainly haven’t kept up with this amazing growth, so reading lists really is one of the essential value-for-money services we can offer:

  • using the lists to deliver readings digitised under the CLA licence, so paper print readings can reach all students on a taught module
  • to make the most of existing electronic resources by bookmarking articles, e-books and film direct to the reading list
  • … and in doing this, students clicks on key readings maintain the resources’ high usage statistics, which helps to ensure they continue to be funded for purchase.  (Adding a copied pdf into Moodle, by comparison, will mean no measureable indication that the journal is being used).

Eugene Walker from the School of Managment gave a wonderful insight into how his department has identified the benefits to using ReadingLists@UCL, wanted their students to have the improved academic experience, and doggedly set about improving their uptake!  They have some subject specific resources which they use to create excellent, helpful lists for students.  They also have some self-imposed ambitious targets for next year.

Goldsmiths had a similar approach to UCL, explained by Maria O’Hara: they aimed to thoroughly use their online reading lists from the start.  In their statistics they count reading lists which are set up, populated, and have the key texts purchased or digitised.  That is a great deal of work, but sets a wonderfully high standard for their users.

Something else I took away and will be working on this year, is looking ahead. One measure of our success last year was reaching the target of 65% coverage of reading lists for taught course modules.  This year we are focussing on:

  • Quality and currency.  Excellently resourced lists that are updated regularly, are enriched by commentary or notes, and excellently resourced.
  • Best practice.  What makes a good list?  Do you know if students are engaging with all or some of the list, or what they need from a list?  We will use research, student feedback and analytics to suggest best practice.
  • Use in teaching and research. Academic staff have told us how they use reading lists in the classroom for teaching, it would be good to capture this for peer-to-peer use.  We will also suggest ways to use lists as a tool to engage students in learning through research.

 

Everyone seemed engaged in the conversation and the TLS team certainly came away re-inspired with some academic-new-year resolutions for online reading lists.

 

Case study: why not put readings in Moodle?

Hazel MIngrey26 October 2017

The question we are asked most often by teaching staff is why not just use Moodle for providing links and pdfs to readings?  Today’s case study shows one student’s experience of this.

 

Easy access for students?

Easy access for students?

A student contacted the library e-resources team as she had difficulty accessing an article online.  Her Moodle course is well organised and gives key readings with some great context and reading notes.  Several of the readings, however, led to an error page instead of the online article.

This is happening for two reasons.  The URL for the reading was copied and pasted directly from the web address bar.  For some resources, such as OVID, the web address contains session information or search terms: it is not a stable link.  When re-visited later, the link no longer works.

A second problem is that even if a stable link is used, it does not include the information which prompts students to log in with their UCL details.

In the majority of cases, both these issues can be resolved by bookmarking from ReadingLists@UCL in the recommended way – using a bookmarking button, much like Pinterest or del.icio.us.  When you first set up a list we will offer a quick orientation to show you how to do this.

For a handful of specialist databases, bookmarking requires an extra step. You can ‘Request review’ when your list is complete, and TLS will check and amend links for you; or ask TLS to create the bookmarks for you.  For those who prefer to be self-sufficient we have some guides: in the tag cloud to the right, click on ‘Non-standard bookmarking‘.

 

How can this situation be avoided on your course?

  • Set up an online reading list and have a brief orientation with TLS
  • Switch on the ‘Library Resources’ block to make a stable link from Moodle to the online list
  • Let your students know about the online reading list!
  • Remove any articles from Moodle to avoid duplication of work, and confusion for students

 

Term 2 Drop-in sessions

Hazel MIngrey26 January 2017

Would a ‘getting started’ session help you get ahead?  Or perhaps a refresher in adding readings would save you some time?

Drop in to the TLS office on a Wednesday afternoon 2.30-4.30pm in Terms 2 and 3 this

year.  We are on hand to trouble-shoot problems, walk you through linking a reading list to Moodle, or you can just use it as time to set up an online list with someone on hand to speed things along!

This way!

This way!

Our office is in UCL Senate House, room 318.  If you aren’t familiar with this UCL Library Hub, ask at the UCL Senate House reception desk, or call the TLS office on 020 3549 5729 (internal x65729).

When you request a new online reading list we always offer a 1:1 orientation (just 20 minutes or so) at your own computer to get you started.  This way, you don’t have to read instructions and everything is tailored to you and your subject.

Other training

  • Hazel and Pam regularly visit Teaching Committee or Departmental meetings for a 10-minute introduction or demonstration.
  • In January we ran a small group ‘Best Practice’ session for an Engineering department.  In an hour we gave an overview, then invited academics to do the initial set up and add a few different resources into an online list.

If you like the sound of these or have other ideas, get in touch to request training, demonstrations, or for more information!

Link rot

Hazel MIngrey7 October 2016

I was reading recently about link rot, that modern nuisance when links to a resource or webpage no longer work.

It is food for thought when refreshing your online reading list for this term. Keep link rot in mind when creating links to new readings: if you have linked to webpages of an organisation that subsequently changes name, or readings on a shady website, students may find the pages no longer available the following year.

Occasionally it even happens in paid journal subscriptions: this year an Archaeology journal was taken over by a different publisher and every stable article link changed.

What can you do if you don’t have time to check through all your lists for broken links?  Navigate to the reading list and sign in; click ‘Review’ then ‘Request Review’.

Request Review

This sends a notification to the TLS.  We check for broken links and create more stable links where possible; we also check all books link to the library catalogue, where relevant.  If you have added a ‘Note to the library’ requesting books be purchased, or newer / more editions for the library, we pass this on to the relevant subject librarian.