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Talis Aspire

How the University of Birmingham put reading lists at the heart of the student experience

Natalie Naik
case study

We held a webinar with Canvas and were joined by Ann-Marie James, Academic Subject Team Manager and Steve Watts, eLearning Technical Consultant at the University of Birmingham to hear how they put reading lists at the heart of the student experience. You can view a recording of the webinar here.

Ann-Marie explained that before they adopted Talis Aspire Reading Lists (TARL) in summer 2015, there were very limited links to reading lists in Canvas as there was no integration and no single-sign on option. Therefore, they saw little take up.

She explained that they wanted to improve the library system by not only having better numbers of items available by using a more accurate picture of what was required, but also to help them work closely with academics, providing reading lists to students in a more proactive and positive way, putting them at the centre of teachings.

Canvas’ own success in the university was a critical driver for this integration with Talis Aspire Reading Lists. At the University of Birmingham, Canvas was the most signed on system (Based on Shibboleth stats) and they wanted to harness this success to drive people to reading lists rather than asking staff and students to learn how to use a new system.

Steve then explained how they used Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), to integrate TARL with their VLE from the Canvas ‘app store’ in a few simple steps. Talis’ LTI Tool is easy to configure and can provide a deep integration of reading lists into Canvas with little up-front effort. The library had set aside several weeks to test, trial and rollout the integration, but in reality only needed a fraction of that time.

The library’s next steps are to increase discoverability for students – making navigation simpler by ensuring that they can see reading lists on the menu bar, rather than through the individual module view. They were also planning on working with devolved constraints, to make it easier for academics to set up and manage lists. If you’d like to discuss these features, please raise a support ticket and the services team can talk you through these.

Ann-Marie explained that now, the library’s goals are to go beyond just focusing on improving access to resources within the library to directly supporting adding to the student experience, putting the library at the heart of this.

There was also a Q&A which followed Ann-Marie and Steve’s presentations on their use of TARL with Canvas and on their wider use of the system. Click here to view the whole webinar.

Did you find the webinar useful? Please share your thoughts below. Do you have any ideas for webinars you would like to see in the future?

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