Tag Archives: resources

Using online resources more

Like most colleges we do provide access to a range of digital and online resources. There is some fantastic content out there which is either available for free or for a relatively low cost subscription.

Feedback from learners, talking to managers and practitioners, show that these resources are not as well used as they could be. There are a range of reasons given why both practitioners and learners do not use them, and in some cases do not even consider using them. These vary from the usual, not enough time, to access issues, or as often happens they didn’t know the college subscribed to them…

Didn’t they have a library induction?

Didn’t they read the e-mail?

The reality is that resources shown at induction or identified in an e-mail will be noted, but not generally remembered. Unless they are use to accessing online resources or are sign-posted to use online resources; they won’t use online resources.

This isn’t just about online resources, experience in my institutiuon and talking to others in a similar position, demonstrate that learners won’t be using books and journals in the library unless they are use to using them or sign-posted to use them.

So who sign-posts?

Well obviously the library staff (learning resources team) can do this with learners who are in the library. They can go and meet with learners in the classroom and inform them of the availability of resources. But these tactics are in many ways like inductions or e-mails, they may not be at the point of need and learners may not readily identify or link the resources to their topics or assessed work. The “clever” learners will know that they can go the library staff when they have a “need” and get signposted that way.

One thing practitioners can do is to sign-post resources to their learners during lessons, within assignments and on the VLE. If a learner wants to get the best grade possible, either in exams or assessed work, they need to use a much wider range of resources than what is made available in the classroom, the library and online resources are two prime locations for these resources. Not all learners know that and not all practitioners realise that they need to signpost to their learners about this. Some may think it so obvious that they don’t even mention it… that can be a mistake.

So how do we change things, so that learners are aware of what online resources are available or what the function of the library is?

Practitioners need to be made aware of the value of the resources available and working with the library staff enable easy access to those resources for their learners.

Some examples.

  • For every course on the VLE each team will identify at least one e-book from the e-Library (currently 3,000 e-books in the collection) and link to that book from the course. The team will promote the e-book to their learners. Usage stats will be taken at the end of the academic year.
  • All practitioners to attend a session on the online resources available to the college, all practitioners to choose at least one online resource that they will use with their learners on one of their courses.
  • Learners are recorded about how an online resource helped them understand a topic better, or complete an assignment successfully.

We are so lucky now to have such a huge range of online resources and content, to ignore it is missing a trick. But getting both learners and practitioners to take advantage of them, is not just down to wishful thinking, but requires communication and planning.

Using e-resources to improve the quality of achievement

In order to improve the quality of achievement, there are various strategies that practitioners can use. One key thing to note is that there is only so much that practitioners can do and learners need to take responsibility for doing more than is just provided to ensure that they get the best possible grade they can.

I know some learners who “believe” that all they need to pass their course is the core text book and the handouts they get in class.

Well, yes in a way that’s right, but they will only pass.

To get that grade A or a distinction they are going to have to do a little bit more. Though some learners will know this, many will not. It is therefore useful for practitioners to support learners to ensure that they have the opportunity and the access to wider range of resources.

Of course practitioners don’t always have the time for this (as they do work hard doing a lot already for the learners) however learning technologies and digital resources can often provide that extra sparkle to allow learners to improve the quality of their work and assessments.

By providing links to e-books, e-journals, relevant e-resources will be placed on the VLE. This will allow students who wish to improve the quality of their assessed work, access to a wider range of resources and links. Learners can then access these links at a time and place that suits them, whether that be at home, at work, whilst drinking coffee or even in college.

Now just providing the links isn’t enough, you also need to ensure that learners are signposted the resources in lessons.

Before any practitioners say “I would like to do that, but I don’t have the time” I have two things to say.

Firstly if quality of achievement is an issue for a particular curriculum area than using resources ie spending time on doing this should be a priority over doing other stuff. It’s not about time, it’s about priorities.

Secondly within most institutions are a bunch of information professionals who are really good at curating and collating these very resources for you. They often live in the library and from experience not only will they know what resources are available for any particular curriculum area, they may also curate and collate them for you.

There are many ways in which digital and online resources can be used to enhance and enrich learning. Using access to a wider range of resources to improve the quality of achievement can be an easy start to solving this issue.

100 ways to use a VLE – #21 Providing access to resources

In a traditional learning session learners will often be provided with resources. These will often consist of a presentation (OHPs or Powerpoint), a handout or three (some will be photocopies from books, printed Word documents and “handwritten”) and possibly some references to additional resources. Now these classroom resources are in many ways for learners the “minimum” they need to complete and pass the course. If a learner is to achieve a higher grade, and help them prepare for HE, then they will need to do more than just the “minimum”. They will need access to extra resources and guidance on what these are. In the past (or the present) we would probably give learners a reading list of text books and journal articles we would want them to read. The learner’s only way to access these resources would probably be through the library.

The VLE is a prime place to provide access to resources, enabling the learner to use the resources at a time and place to suit them. With the growing increase in the use of e-journals, e-books, digital and online resources it is much easier for practitioners to create a digital reading list. Yes such a list could be e-mailed, but by holding a “copy” on the VLE, it can be easily updated, new resources can be added, and learners can be assured that the version they are reading is the most recent version.

As a VLE can track usage of resources, then this would enable the practitioner to see who and what is been used, and then use this information in class to direct learners who may be struggling or need more of a challenge.

The list can be a simple list, but with many resources been multi-media it would be possible to create a reading list that is also a listening list and a watching list. It would also be possible to add additional learner development resources that show learners how to make best use of such lists, how to read and takes notes from resources and how to reference resources in their assessed work. It makes sense that those kinds  of supportive resources are created by the library or other information professional and shared across the institution.

If a learner wants to get the best grade possible, either in exams or assessed work, they need to use a much wider range of resources than what is made available in the classroom, the VLE is an ideal location for those resources.

Promoting e-resources

In the past we had books, journals, magazines and newspapers in our institutional libraries. Places full of print media. We had individual desks and small tables.

Then computers arrived. In the main so that learners could use them to type up stuff or use “educational” software.

Then the internet arrived and lots of things changed.

Today the learner not only has access to all the traditional print media, they also have access to all the resources available online.

The Excellence Gateway has another useful case study on how promoting resources can increase usage of the library.

Hull College has increased library usage through the promotion of e-resources. The College is now able to cater to an increased number of learners and also tailor services to different types of learner, such as distance or part-time students, or learners with disabilities. e-Resources have made the library service more responsive to the needs of both learners and staff within College.

We have undertaken a recent review of our own promotion of e-books and have started to undertake new and exciting promotional activties to increase usage of e-books by learners and staff.

Key things we are doing include:

  • Letting staff know what new resources and e-books there are. We are using different channels, print publications, e-mail, VLE and importantly face to face conversations.
  • As well as letting them know what is available, we are also promoting how they can use the resources to support teaching and learning.
  • We are using similar methods with learners, using print, e-mail, SMS, VLE and social networking.
  • In the libraries themselves staff are ensuring that when learners ask for particular resources that as well as showing them the print publications they are also showing the learners relevant e-books and online resources.
  • We have also ensured that all the e-books we have are in our catalogue.

Having digital and online resources is not just about getting them or getting access to them, but also ensuring that learners and staff know about them.

How do you promote e-resources to your staff and learners?

The World Factbook – iPhone App of the Week

The World Factbook 2010 – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will also work on the iPod touch.

This week’s App is The World Factbook.

The World Factbook is the reliable and extremely popular source of information on all the nations of the world.

It provides up-to-date, valuable data for more than 250 countries and territories in a concise, well-organized format whenever and wherever you want.

Topics addressed include natural resources, industries, GDP, religion, ethnic groups, legal system and much more. Key data are grouped under the headings of introduction/background, geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, transnational issues.


So all the information in this App is available online for free…

So why on earth would you spend 59 pence on an App?


Good question!

The main reason is that the information is “available online for free” and that’s the crunch, you have to be online to be able to access that free information, which means it isn’t free! Going online costs money, okay if you have access to free wifi, less so if you are using expensive 3G data.

But you can download the Factbook….

True, but if you download it to an iPhone (or iPod touch) you won’t be able to access it, as you can’t access the file system on  the iPhone you won’t be able to open the downloaded Factbook.

So for 59p you can have offline access to the Factbook and this in my opinion is 59p well spent.

The key with any App is, is it value for money, and I think the World Factbook is value for money. It provides detailed information and maps on the countries of the world quickly and easily and can do this without needing a 3G or wifi connection.

Free Maps from Ordnance Survey

Fancy some free maps?

Ordnance Survey is now providing a selection of free, downloadable, basic small-scale maps of Great Britain for you to use for your own purpose. GB outlines with and without administrative boundaries are available in EPS, TIF, PDF, GIF and WMF format; download the style and format of your choice to use in your word processing, presentation or graphics application.

If you like what you see but require more detail, Ordnance Survey produce a range of large format, full colour OS Wall maps that may be of interest. The free GB coastline and administrative areas map is derived from the United Kingdom Administrative wall map, a wall map ideal for business or educational use.

Download them from Ordnance Survey.

Perfect for when creating handouts that require an outine of the UK.

Great War Archive

Great War Archive

Launch of Great War Archive

Oxford University is marked the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day by launching two new, free to access websites, thanks to funding from the JISC digitisation programme. These resources will allow educators, scholars and the public to view previously unseen memorabilia and poetry from World War I.

The ‘Great War Archive’ and the ‘First World War Poetry Archive’ bring together 13,500 digital images of items mainly of rare primary source material.

Many items submitted to the ‘Great War Archive’ by members of the public are treasured family heirlooms which have never been on public display.

Items include:

  • A bullet-dented tea can which saved the life of an engineer who repaired a bombing post whilst under heavy fire in Bullecort in November 1917.
  • A souvenir matchbox made by a German POW for a British Lance Corporal after they had fought a fierce fire together, saving many lives.
  • Remarkable sketches of scenes and characters from military and civilian life by Private Percy Matthews, until now, an unknown artist.

The Great War Archive complements Oxford University’s First World War Poetry Digital Archive which will enable online users to view previously unseen materials such as poetry manuscripts and original diary entries from some of the conflict’s most important poets. It builds on Oxford University’s extensive Wilfred Owen Archive.

Oxford University’s Project Leader, Kate Lindsay, said: “The Great War is arguably the most resonant period in modern British history. The memorabilia and poetry archives will provide easy access to an unrivalled collection of material which will be of use to anyone interested in getting closer to this world-changing conflict.”

Author and academic Vivien Noakes, added: “Each of the items submitted to The Great War Archive tells a personal and, often very poignant, story. The archive provides a myriad of windows into the period – the Great War in microcosm. Access to this material can only enhance our understanding of what it was like actually to live through these momentous times.”

The website has been made possible through the JISC Digitisation Programme which will see a wide range of heritage and scholarly resources of national importance shared with new audiences.

Find out more.

Picture source.

Cost of heritage

An interesting article by Internet law professor Michael Geiston the BBC News website on how museums are embracing digitisation and the internet but at what cost.

As museums experiment with the internet – many are using online video, social networks, and interactive multimedia to create next-generation museums that pull content from diverse places to create “virtual museums” – the museum community has emerged as a leading voice for the development of legal frameworks that provide sufficient flexibility to facilitate digitisation and avoid restrictions that could hamper cultural innovation.

The more we can freely and easily use out of copyright digitised material for learning, the more enhanced and enriched learning can be.

Rather than rely on just the interpretation of a resource, we can use the resource as well.

For example when I was at school, we relied on text books to inform us about what happened in history. Today using a range of resources, alongside that book we can also read the newspapers of the day, the parliamentary papers and so much more. All from the comfort of our classroom, or from a learners’ perspective from the comfort of where they want to be, whether that be their home or in a coffee shop.

Cost of heritage

I am pleased to hear that museums are digitising their collections as it can only widen access to the general public including learners across the country.

Podcasting Tools and Resources

At a recent HE Academy event I presented at I offered to provide a series of links relating to resources and tools for digital video and podcasting. Here are some podcasting tools and resources.


Here are my podcasting resources.


Apple’s Garageband is part of the iLife suite which comes pre-installed on every Mac. Though initially designed as a music recording (and creation) application, it can also be used to record (and publish) podcasts. Watch a tutorial on creating a podcast, Quicktime required.

With GarageBand, you can create your own virtual on-stage band and play along on your favourite instrument. You can record, edit and mix a song exactly as you want it, in pristine CD quality. It’s the perfect place to get your act together.


This open source software which is available for a range of platforms allows you to both and edit audio. Quite a complicated piece of software it certainly is very powerful.

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to:

  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and WAV sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • And more!

Wire Tap Studio

Recently released this audio application makes it not only much easier to capture and record audio on your Mac, it also makes it much easier to strike that balance between quality and file size when sharing your podcast.

Using WireTap Studio, you can record the discrete audio output of any application, as well as all system audio, or record audio input from any microphone, line-in, or audio input hardware. If you can hear it, WireTap Studio can record it. Once you have recorded your audio, you can easily organize your recordings in the convenient Recording Library, and edit them with WireTap Studio’s integrated lossless audio editor. WireTap Studio also boasts full Audio Unit effects support, for adding professional quality effects to your audio.

One of the key issues when recording podcasts is the microphone. Cheap microphones have not been calibrated (it is the calibrating which costs that is what makes a good microphone expensive), you can get good cheap microphones, but you just have to be lucky!

Photo source