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Talis Aspire Reading List Challenge

Alison Spencer

Compiling a reading list should be exciting and rewarding for both academics and students. Talis wanted to showcase great reading lists built by academics who are using Talis Aspire Reading Lists to deliver their course reading in a way that exemplifies best practice teaching and learning, so asked that universities nominated lists that they felt were exemplars.

27 entries were received, these are shown below, with 4 short listed (highlighted in yellow) and voted on at the Talis Aspire User Group in July 2014; the winner was from University of Edinburgh – The Zombie Apocalypse Guide; congratulations to the University of Edinburgh for such an discussion provoking list.

University Reading list Submission Text
University of Stirling view list I have chosen this list as an exemplar of how resource lists can expand the types of materials lecturers can now use. I have used it in a session to demonstrate to other academics that resource lists can go beyond books. This list is well-structured and full of interesting content. It even has a video of Stanley Baxter in it!
Oxford Brookes view list David was my first academic “early adopter” when Brookes Library first began to dip our toes in the water of rolling out reading list creation to academic staff over a year ago. He embraced the technology enthusiastically and could see its potential at once for his Philosophy of Education module. This is a module with a relatively small number of students and David runs it almost like a reading group, with key readings week-by-week which are then discussed in the timetabled sessions. As you can see from the list, David makes good use of Aspire’s flexibility to create both themed sections of his list (such as the Pinterest board) and week-by-week key reading sections. He also saw immediately the possibilities of Aspire’s options in terms of the types of resource that could be bookmarked; resources for the module go well beyond traditional “reading” to encompass audio lectures, video, and Web sites as well as book chapters, journal articles and whole textbooks. Wherever possible David wanted his students to be able to find their resources online, so as many of the book and journal readings as possible are from e-books and electronic journals. He makes full use of the Notes to Student to highlight both technical support information, and the use he wants the students to make of the resources and what he encourages them to focus on. David updates the list frequently before and during each run of the module, using it as a truly dynamic tool to communicate both with students and with me as his Subject Librarian; I use the list often in training and advocacy sessions with other academic colleagues as an example of what Aspire can do and an inspiration to persuade them to try it themselves!
Plymouth University (finalist) view list The list was created for second year Nursing undergraduate students on a research module (Evidence-Informed Decision Making). The module is taught using Team-Based Learning methodology developed by Larry Michaelson. Students have to engage with the items in each unit prior to the taught session for the particular unit. They are then assessed on their understanding of the content of the resources individually (via MCQs) and then again as a team. This involves discussion and team work. Finally, a scenario is given to the teams for discussion. None of the activities can be undertaken successfully if the students have not engaged with the material. I nominate this list because it uses a variety of resources (book chapters, journal articles, websites, radio programmes, You Tube videos, podcasts, e-tutorials), is well organised and the tutor updates it regularly. Notes are provided for the students and the structure follows the learning objectives/outcomes of the module. It is an integral part of the teaching methodology and allows the teaching team to highlight essential material for the students to access easily from anywhere.
Plymouth University view list The list was created for first year Adult Nursing undergraduate students on a core module (Core Concepts of Health). I nominate this list because it uses a wide variety of resources (books, journal articles, websites, audio-visual material, e-tutorials), and has a clear structure following the structure of the module. Notes are provided for the students and the structure follows the learning objectives/outcomes of the module. As part of this module, students were encouraged to sign in to Aspire and make study notes on the materials as they worked through them and discuss the resources. This is the first time that I have seen this happen, although we always mention this as a way of getting students to engage with the reading material when training staff.
Middlesex University view list This reading list is a combination of a variety of resources: a clip from Russell Brand’s infamous grilling by Jeremy Paxman (BBC); ebooks; printed books and chapter digitisations, makes this reading list a lively and interesting read. This list also demonstrates liaison between the library and the academic department. Ben Little, the module leader, added books and news clips, and his notes for the media students which places his choice of reading material into context are very enjoyable. This list has also been heavily used, a good indication of the value of our reading list project here at Middlesex University.
University of Portsmouth view list Marc Jacobs’ Questioning Criminology: is part of a suite of lists he has built up on theoretical criminology. Marc was an early adopter so his use of the lists is quite sophisticated. It has been integrated into Moodle as a series of weekly readings and has had consistently high use by the 129 students on the course. Marc has been a keen supporter of Aspire reading lists and helped many colleagues in the early stages of creating their own lists. He has made extensive use of the dashboard feature to inform his list creation and encourages use of the reading lists in lectures and seminars. I’ve been particularly impressed by the care he has taken with informative annotation of all his lists and his quick recognition and action in ordering scans, additional copies when student use creates pressure points.
University of Portsmouth view list Eric Mathison’s list on Race, Slavery and Emancipation in the Americas: is in contrast a relatively straightforward transfer of a previous paper based list. It has much less annotation and is linked directly to Moodle via a simple reading list block. However it is very well structured relating directly to the seminars the students are studying and clearly distinguishes required, suggested and background reading as well as on occasion suggesting group reading. With fewer students (66) on the course and covering only the first semester it has had a great deal of use. The secret may be that it is very targeted using key articles and suggesting specific chapters. It also relates directly to the assessments for the unit giving students clear guidance as to the extra reading that may be of use for these.
University of Portsmouth view list Jonathan Evans’ Theory & Practice Of Translation: is a list for a unit which exists in a campus based and a distance learning mode This version whilst specifically aimed at distance learners shared many resources with the campus based version and is very much a work in progress. During the year we have been gradually adding TADC material and extra e-books where available to make this more instantly accessible to his students. Jonathan’s guidance on specific chapters and articles has helped us provide a more usable list. Although Jonathan sees this as a very ordinary list simply linked with the reading list block it has made life easier for many of his students to have it digitised and with the help of TADC we think it can be used an exemplar for other staff working with distance learning students.
Middlesex University view list Although the reading list for the module The Visual Activist currently requires a few digitisations, (these are subject to review for the new term) what it lacks in finish it makes up for in breadth of material and exciting content; including a clutch of websites on manifestos, animations from the RSA, music video clips and helpful annotations on material from the tutor. The module is a lively, robust view of political activism and the arts, encouraging students to be curious, engage, browse, gather, reflect and analyse with an emphasis on discussion and participation; this is supported by a comprehensive TALIS Aspire list which is really a reading list in the most lateral and elastic sense.
University of Surrey view list This list, like many Sociology lists, is long, but well structured, with a very clear indication of essential reading and background reading for each week of the course, plus a brief statement of the weekly topic. The background reading offers plenty of scope for further reading, with specific chapters/pages recommended so that the students are encouraged to read as widely as they wish, but offering plenty of scope so that they do not all read the same, thus encouraging discussion in seminars. Because we do not yet have the digitisation module, an indication is given where essential reading has also been made available via our VLE (with the appropriate copyright adherence!) so that all students have easy access to this reading. We structure all of our lists with the four accepted University of Surrey reading list categories at the top of the list giving students a clear distinction between the different types of reading category. We also link to the Library subject page for the relevant department giving students a quick link into further resources. I could easily have submitted another similar list but this one does an excellent job in engaging the s tudents in theoretical topics, often not so easily done as more applied topics
Harper Adams University view list This list is well structured and offers a variety of up-to-date resources. Students love it as it is well annotated and is of a manageable size.
University of Liverpool view list This list is being used as a shining example to help encourage other academic staff to become engaged with the wonder that is Talis Aspire, branded as Reading Lists @ Liverpool. The University of Liverpool has a Learning and Teaching Conference on “Recognising and Sharing Teaching Excellence” later this summer and Dr Shaw is presenting a case study using her list to share her experience of using Reading Lists @ Liverpool in teaching a module on Brazilian popular culture. We want participants at the conference to feel the Bossa Nova beat as links not only to books, but video clips and music are both easily gathered together, organised and accessed. They will hear how students have responded to and made use of the new reading list format. No previous knowledge will be required other than an interest in finding out how Reading Lists @ Liverpool is flexible enough to support teaching needs as well as increase student interaction with their learning process. Dr Shaw is a self-confessed technophobe but has found it easy to engage with the software to build up a list that is both easy for her to maintain and for students to access. The list is divided into 8 clear sections, from general reading to specific aspects of Brazilian culture like Samba and Bossa Nova. Concise notes to direct student reading have been added, with a mixture of direction eg.” Read chapters 1-3” and suggestion eg. “Use the index to find relevant sections”. Students have found that this has helped them save time by directing them to recommended reading and time saved has allowed them to also read more deeply than they had on other modules (with less developed reading lists!) In terms of teaching, the list allows Dr Shaw to have quick and easy access to resources she wants to refer to during classes and knows that links to audio or visual clips are all in one place and only a click away. This also saves class time and means more of the subject can be covered than having to faff about finding links to AV files. Similarly, students have reported being less distracted when looking on You Tube for example, than they might have been without the direct links from their reading list. The written work submitted by students on this module have had notably improved bibliographies compared to previous years before Reading Lists @ Liverpool was implemented so there is a direct correlation with student performance and use of their online reading list. The list has been well used by the 15 students on the module, as the 2013/14 version of the list had 620 views and 438 clicks. It’s an added bonus that this year’s World Cup is being hosted by Brazil as this is adding new resources on a daily basis to the rich collection already available and the next students of HISP333 will be the beneficiaries!
Royal Holloway University London (finalist) view list I’m submitting this list as it’s one of the more carefully structured and well thought out that I’ve seen. It makes good use of Talis’ section and note tools without overburdening the list and making it unwieldy. Overall, it’s an excellent example of what we’re trying to achieve with Talis: a comprehensive, informative list, which is easy to navigate and includes all the information students will need to do the reading for their course. The first line of the blurb also makes me laugh (“Reading is a very important part of this course.”)
University of Kent view list The list gives clear guidance on recommendations for student purchase and categorises the items throughout for their relative importance. Precise instructions are given to students on which chapters to read. Under each session items for further reading are neatly recommended within subject groups. Overall the list is nicely laid out, broken up into sessions and then reading is grouped by subject themes. Relevant journals are also indicated to supplement book material. Although the cohort size on this list is very much smaller than some of our modules, this list was amongst the 40 most visited, which is an indicator of the importance and usefulness to the students, many of whom are part time and often already in work.
University of Edinburgh (finalist) view list Zombie Apocalypse Guide – How to access resources during a zombie outbreak or other event was created t o provide information on accessing University Library resources electronically and off-campus using the theme of a zombie apocalypse to brighten up what could otherwise be a fairly dull, and sometimes confusing, subject. Most of the items on the list link to Library webpages or services, this approach, I think, works well to engage with students and to point them in the right direction for the help they might need. As well as highlighting key electronic resources and information on how to access them, Charlie has included guidance within the list on how users can make the most of Talis Aspire features such as, notes, read status and profile. She has structured the list with clear and meaningful section names which work well to direct users to relevant information when viewed as a Table of Contents. The notes sections are also used to provide #Tips towards self-study in the areas of zombie outbreak and survival. Additionally, each resource link includes text explaining what the resource is and why it may be of interest. For example: Section: Off Campus Access – How to access e-resources Study note: If a zombie outbreak occurs please access library resources from a safe remote area. Item title: I get an error message about ezproxy when trying to access e-journals. | Accessing e-resources Student note: From time to time you may receive an ezproxy error message, don’t panic the zombies haven’t arrived yet, we can help. I really like Charlie’s use of humour throughout the list to convey important information. The tone is conversational and engaging and the humour consistent, consequently, you want to keep reading to find out more. The list also includes a lot of informative notes which translate well when exported to a PDF file, providing the student with a useful and easy to follow guide to accessing e-resources.The zombie resource books, articles and webpages will intrigue a wide and varied user group. In addition to providing an element of fun, they also illustrate the range of resources available from the Library and will hopefully encourage some serendipitous discovery. Resources added include: WHEN ZOMBIES ATTACK!: MATHEMATICAL MODELLING OF AN OUTBREAK OF ZOMBIE INFECTION – Philip Munz CDC – Blogs – Public Health Matters Blog – Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse Before They Were Flesh-Eating Zombies Trying to Take Over the World – Carolyn Ferrell 2013 (Short story) This list is now part of our Library Guides and is also being used as a promotional tool on Twitter and our blog to encourage people to visit the Resource Lists homepage and to find out more about the service In summary, Charlie has successfully used humour to create a reading list which informs, entertains, engages and promotes access to electronic resources, the key features of Talis Aspire and Resource Lists@ Edinburgh.
University of Edinburgh view list Senior Lecturer Values and Experiential Learning / Depute Director of Postgraduate Studies. What initially caught my attention about Peter’s list was the text at the top of the list encouraging students to contact the course organiser with any materials that may be particularly useful for inclusion with the list, in particular web pages or YouTube clips. These have been collected towards the bottom of the list in the section ‘Useful Websites’ and by the number of resources in this section looks to have been quite successful in promoting self-study and engagement with students. Another way Peter’s list has encouraged skill learning is where in the section ‘Session One’ instead of simply linking directly to a journal article, Peter has instead opted to provide a resource link to the University Library Catalogue and then in the ‘Student Note’ has directed students to search for the article themselves. Peter has also used the Student not to provide information on where to find help on how to search if they have difficulty with this task. The article students are asked to locate looks particularly interesting too: ‘Learning shock: The trauma of return to formal learning’, Management Learning, 36(3), 275–297. The list has a very focused purpose, each section has a study note explaining what it contains and who it may be relevant to, and many of the resources have student notes describing the resource and include instructions on how the student is to use it, e.g. “Please read Chapters Six and Seven of this book and bring notes to the workshop this week”. Peter has also made use of Talis Aspire’s ability to link and embed YouTube clips, adding a number of these to the list, including upbeat and engaging clips such as ‘TCT 018: Conspiracies, Mind Control and Falsifiability – YouTube’. Many of the resources themselves are actually quite interesting and eye-catching: Statistics without tears: a primer for non-mathematicians – Rowntree, Derek 2000. How to read journal articles in the social sciences: a very practical guide for students – Shon, Phillip C. 2012 Book Essential Read and take notes on: Chapter 1: Serial Killers and Book Reports Peter’s list was created as part of the research courses for all postgraduate students at the School of Education, covering approximately 650 students. According to the Dashboard this list was successfully viewed 1937 times with 1810 total clicks and 28 notations.
University of Edinburgh view list Jeremy created this resource list to complement the University of Edinburgh MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), E-Learning and Digital Cultures. To my knowledge this list was one of the first, if not the first use of Talis Aspire for a MOOC. I quite like the way that Jeremy has combined the use of Pages to include extended explanations and discussions around the resources, with Talis Aspire’s ability to embed YouTube clips.  The list is clearly structured by the four weeks of the MOOC and each week contains a Page with four embedded YouTube clips and information and discussion prompts for each of the clips. My favourite of the included YouTube clips is Film 1:  Bendito Machine III on the Popular Cultures Page for Week 1: Looking to the past. In addition to this Jeremy has used Student Notes to provide substantial commentary on each of his resources. The notes make very clear what is the purpose of each resource, and are written in a lively conversational tone. He has also used this space to pose questions and promote thought and discussion among participants of his MOOC. Although I don’t have access to the exact course numbers, according to the Dashboard this list was successfully viewed 1266 times with 161 total clicks and appears to have been quite successful.
University of Hull view list Cristina has played an important role in the implementation of the ReadingLists@Hull project. She was an early advocate of the software and championed its use both within the School of Politics, Philosophy and International Studies, and across the wider academic community. Cristina has created and populated online reading lists to support all of her teaching. The list for Module 30048 – Parliaments and Citizens demonstrates her utilisation of the different features that Talis offers. Simple but effective structure: List divided into core reading and tutorial reading. Focussed content: The list is not overly long. It specifies focussed reading and so represents a manageable reading workload for students. Cristina has also used importance levels to great effect. This enables students to distinguish between material that is deemed essential, recommended and background. Maximises access: The vast majority of list items are online resources. As such, students can access these resources instantaneously on- and off-campus. The other items are available in the main site library. A mixture of formats: The list includes books and journal articles but also other online and audio-visual content. As such, there is a mixture of secondary and primary material, mixing academic content with other types of commentary. Contextual information: Cristina has also used student notes to contextualise the resources listed in terms of other resources provided via the VLE and to provide further information about specific items.
University of Hull view list I have chosen this list because Eileen has been a real champion of the reading list software and has fully engaged with using it for all her lists. This particular list she has populated herself with a wide range and breadth of sources. It’s not simply a list of book and journal articles but a whole range of online materials, ensuring accessibility for her students. The books she links to are current and has linked to ebooks wherever available. Not only does she link to whole journal titles but also links to specific articles. She directs the students to a range of online documents such as Guidance, Case studies and organisational web sites. By offering the students a large selection of online materials ensures they will get to read and access the large majority of materials on the list. Her case studies section is particularly good as she has linked to lots of relevant news articles. This module ran last semester so the articles may seem dated but she will be updating these as the module starts again. Eileen gets very engaged with her lists and adds new materials on an ongoing basis, not just once a year. She finds current materials online and in the media and adds them to the list resulting in a current and dynamic list. Of particular interest is her link to a poster – “GMS young peoples rights poster’, something I haven’t seen on any other lists. She has also linked to a Henry Stewart talk and a Podcast, again offering a range of materials to engage the students. I also like the fact she has embedded a video ‘Just a routine operation’ also with student guidance. She has started to use importance levels for some documents which ensures the essential reading stands out to the student. I also like the student notes she has added. By making some of these quite informal I think the students are likely to be more engaged, e.g. “Gillian spotted this – to add to our discussion on conjoint twins” for a particular webpage. Also for another book “this is a resource in relation to caring for adults but worth a wee look”. Also left blank is a section to add recommendations from students from their seminars. Eileen tries to engage the students with the software, not only promoting the availability of the list online but encouraging student participation in suggestions for the list. Overall her list is interesting, engaging, current and well-structured and she would be a very deserving winner. When I emailed her to check she was happy for me to put her forward her words were “wow how fantastic…Thankyou for thinking of me – you are fab” and when I wished her luck in winning her response was “Fingers, eyes and legs crossed…. would be fab eh”.
KCL (finalist) view list Readinglist is long but clearly laid out with required and supplementary reading demarcated. Tutorial questions are included, reminding students of the focus of their reading and the list as a whole is accompanied by a holistic explanation of the aims of the course.
KCL view list This is a popular list used for one of our first year modules which helps introduce students to the city as well as the subject. It is well structured, filled with online resources and different types of media. There is week by week reading with hints on chapters as well as suggestions for further reading at the end.
KCL view list Short and to the point, proportionally speaking it has high usage which is probably related to the number of online resources and the clear indication of what is core, recommended or additional reading.
KCL view list This is another long one, but I like that its filled with notes to point students in the right direction and tutorial questions to help focus reading.
KCL view list To be honest, we’re not entirely sure what think about this dentistry list for distance learning students. Instead of creating a long reading list and risking students dropping off and the right section being hard to locate, here the School of Dentistry have created an individual list for each module. At the minute they do this and then link each one into the correct section of the VLE using their own system. We did think it was a clever way to work around a problem they had with the current set up, but I’m sure they’ll be happy when the LTI Integration with Moodle is up and running.
KCL view list It may not look like anything special, but this is the reading list we always wish for and rarely receive. Not too long, week by week readings, short notes on each topic. From a librarians perspective the best bit is how Frank helps us manage user expectations by highlighting usage restrictions on the eResources for us – a number of items include notes that only 3 concurrent users can use the ebook.
KCL view list NB/This list is private and you may not be able to access it via the URL. Try signing in on the Kings Talis page and searching for the module number. – 5AAH1033: China and the world: 1790-1945
We like this list because it’s relatively short with readings divided by week and topic. Students are given discussion questions to help them reflect on their reading and in one small touch we really like students are even told which order the texts for their first class are best read in. Let’s just hope there are enough copies in the library to accommodate that! Students are clearly engaged with their online reading list too, with almost 100 visits per head in the class.

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