Skip to content
Talis Aspire

How resource lists benefit students learning online

Natalie Naik
Shift to Online

In a recent interview we did with Janet Fletcher, University Librarian for Victoria University of Wellington, she told us about their shift to online, revealing that: “We even had one academic staff member saying “thank God for Talis Aspire”. The effort in putting their resources into Talis Aspire reading lists really saved the day.” 

How Talis Aspire universities are managing the shift to online with reading lists

“We are using lists to provide access to different kinds of content, scanned PDFs, ebooks, information about weekly readings, websites, open education resources, and more. The lists allow our students to easily access library and non-library resources. Students have access to content that would normally be retrieved in-person through the Library, but is instead now delivered in an online format in accordance with Canada’s fair dealing copyright regulations. The lists have provided librarians with an opportunity to become more embedded in courses by assisting faculty and instructors with integrating lists of library resources into their online courses. The list usage statistics have been useful in demonstrating the value of the system and have provided evidence that students are in fact using the reading lists.

This Talis guide is something we use to share with faculty and staff. It could use some more updating now that we are a couple of months into using the system, but for the most part, it works well.” Roën Janyk, Web Services Librarian, Library Department Chair, Okanagan College.

Richard Hughes, Systems Librarian at the University of Highlands and Islands told us about their shift to online: “In recent months there has been an increase in academic staff editing their reading lists with an emphasis on online resources and other web content. This has been hugely beneficial to students studying remotely, as they can access list content 24/7 at a time that is convenient to them. Over half of our reading list traffic now originates from our Brightspace VLE, which helps provide a more seamless and convenient experience for our students.” You can watch their video which provides an introduction to reading lists.

The University of Durham in the UK recently selected Talis Aspire for their resource lists, Deputy University Library Mike Wall said “We selected Talis Aspire to replace our in-house reading list system to support our move to an increased emphasis on online learning. Talis Aspire will enable students to access digitised content easily and securely anywhere and anytime. Academics will be able to create dynamic resource lists that can be regularly updated. Library staff will be able to streamline digitisation and purchasing and make processes more efficient.” See the post where this quote originally featured.

Here’s why we think reading lists are part of your online teaching and learning toolkit:

Provide easy access to resources

All in one place

Reading lists put all your content in one place, whether it’s core textbooks, recommended articles, or YouTube videos to watch. Content can be built upon by academics dynamically throughout the term, making it a one-stop-shop for all resources related to a module.

Having a single list of resources is only useful if it’s easy to get to, and that’s why we’ve focused on providing a great embedding experience for reading lists in your Learning Management System (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). We currently integrate with Canvas, Aula, Blackboard, Desire2Learn and Moodle, and have capabilities to add more, as and when required by our user universities.

Anywhere, any time

Our online reading lists are available 24/7 and on any device. This means students can access their lists whilst studying on their laptop at home, or from a mobile device on their commute. 

It provides a single link straight through to the resource, using single-sign-on, linked to your library catalogue to ensure a smooth experience. 


Students can make it their own

Filter to ‘online resources’ only

When access to physical resources in the library is restricted, providing students with online and digital resources is crucial. Our filter options within Talis Aspire reading lists improve this experience for students. When students are at home and can’t get to the library, they can streamline their lists and view just the online items that they are able to access.


Adding notes

Having content all in one place is about reducing the amount of documents, web pages and handwritten notes a student needs to study. That’s why we have note-making capabilities within the reading list. 

As shown in the example below, a student can make private notes against each item, to help them keep track of what they are reading and when they might need to return to do more reading. 


Managing reading intentions

In Talis Aspire there’s a simple key system which helps students keep track of their progress with their reading list. It’s called ‘reading intentions’ and enables students to mark ‘undecided’, ‘will read’, ‘reading now’ or ‘have read’ against each item.

As shown in the example below, this leaves a coloured icon against each item, making it easy to skim the list and identify their progress. These can also be filtered, so students can choose to show only the items with a relevant ‘reading intention’.


If you’re a Talis Aspire user and would like more information on how you can make the most out of your resource lists for online teaching and learning, please raise a support ticket and we’d be happy to support you.

If you’re not yet using Talis Aspire at your university, get in touch and find out how you could make an impact with resource lists.

More from the blog