Melissa Fiu and Dr Teresia Teaiwa found the process of adopting a new system, needed for copyright compliance (Talis Aspire), allowed them to evaluate and confirm the value of their course reading materials. They also started exploring the abilities it afforded them in understanding how students were actually engaging with their course materials.
Victoria University of Wellington has adopted the Talis system to manage the copyright compliance of its print materials and readings lists and provide students with a consistent process or accessing and managing their readings. Talis presents students with the list of materials the lecturer considers important for the course in a structure that can mirror that of the Blackboard course. It provides students with the citation information, the indication of what type of resource it is and a link to the digital copy. Usually the link takes you to a webpage where the resource can be accessed, read, and possibly printed or downloaded. The system allows students to review the reading list and indicate their reading intention for each item so as to track their progress through the reading list for the course. They can also take notes along the way to help manage their reading activity. The Talis system links directly into Blackboard through content items created in the course.
Va'aomanū Pasifika decided to take a very proactive and positive approach to adopting this new technology for their lecturers and courses. Key school admin staff were involved in the early adopters project for the system role out. The School Manager La'chelle took the decision that admin support for this system was key to a successful school-wide programme and encouraged Melissa Fiu to get trained up in the system. Their plan was to provide dedicated admin support for all of the School’s courses. The expectation was that Melissa would then take the course outline reading lists from all the PASI courses and build the basic Talis lists for all their courses. Once the basic lists and bookmarks had been created, the Academic staff members could use these draft lists in their training sessions and then take the time to review their own lists for accuracy, metadata completeness and resource value.
“Having a basic list already created by our school admin allowed staff to realise the value of their input into the system and engage with the system with a lot less fear and concern.”
Taking this approach allowed for a smooth transition for Academic staff into the system and a speedy uptake in Talis lists for their courses in T1 and early preparation for T2 courses. As Melissa was building a number of lists she became very familiar with the system, processes and the type of resources needed in their courses. Gaining repeated experience of any potential issues, and becoming familiar with good practice and solutions allowed for successful lists being created more effectively. Taking this approach also reduced the impact and workload on the Academic staff and ensured the school had an in-house expert to support in future lists and ongoing amendments.
Teresia was one of the Academics who ran a T1 course using Talis. She was initially apprehensive about the amount of work and learning involved for this to work but after Melissa had created her draft lists Teresia found it easy to see how the system would work in her course and use her training time to review her reading and resource list for the course thinking about the value of the resources for her course. There was some trepidation going into the start of the course and Teresia was a little uncertain how the students would relate to the change in process—they used to have printed course notes and pdf copies loaded into Blackboard of all resources—and to cover herself for the first course she did in-fact leave the PDFs up in Blackboard as a fall back.
Once Teresia got over the initial challenge of running a new process and system for the course, and supporting students through the change, she began to think more about the resources she was using and how the Talis system could help her review her teaching content. She has always been conscious that students tend to read the items on the reading list for the first couple of weeks and then there appears to be a big drop off in engagement with the material recommended. It wasn't clear whether this was because students don't see the value in the readings, couldn't access them easily or if the difficulty in reading all the material and keeping up with the workload increases too much during the course. Teresia was keen to ensure the readings cited were of value to the students' learning and were linked to activities in class or assignments. She was also keen to make sure that readings had some context for students about their purpose in reading them—whether it was a particular point that needed to be picked out or an idea that needed to be understood—this meant structuring the Talis list to mirror the course structure and content and adding in notes to indicate to students to specific point of interest in the readings.
Teresia was keen to make sure students didn't have any stress around getting to readings. She can see that using the Talis list fully the students are actually provided with much easier access to the resources and so in the long run it is much easier for them, as they don't have to compete for library resources with other courses.
Talis provided Teresia with bonus information about her students' actual reading activity. The system allowed her to see the number of students who had clicked on a link indicating that they had at least opened the reading resource. She could also see if students were indicating their reading intentions and adding notes to indicate engagement with the reading list. This was the first time she had actual data on how students were engaging with the reading material prompting her to think more about how the in-class activities, assignments and course expectations can be further aligned to be realistic and valuable to the students.
“The ability to get really useful information / reports on student activity will be great. I'm curious about the variations in weekly engagement. It also encouraged navigation around the Blackboard course, which is good.”
After running the system in her T1 course Teresia now feels more confident in running with the Talis list in her T2 course and will remove all the PDF copies of documents. She intends to look closer at the analytical information the system gives her about the reading activity of her students in real time so she can respond and support her students in getting more out of the course readings.
Commentaries on the pedagogical ideas behind this case study, written by academics from the Centre for Academic Development
Learning Design and Application
The growth of the Internet means that students now have access to a vast body of human knowledge in a variety of media. Course reading lists can seem old fashioned, even irrelevant to students who are increasingly used to being able to search directly for information as they need it. Consequently students are tempted by the convenience of online sources even as they recognise that these may be less reliable than the alternatives. Libraries are recognised as being more reliable by students but they also are regarded as inconvenient and time-consuming to use (Sundin and Franke, 2009). Students typically search in less systematic ways than trained researchers and use natural language in preference to keywords (Nicholas et al., 2011). They find identifying suitable keywords and filtering results complex and time consuming (Head, 2013) and are often unfamiliar with the features provided by search engines to assist in the process of research (Gasser et al., 2012). This may reflect their familiarity with the power of the default mode of modern search engines, which typically can parse natural language and extract keywords without human intervention and which provide affordances that simplify the identification of related works without the need for the complex syntax taught to earlier generations.
Course readings provide an opportunity to help students learn how to engage with formally written materials which they may be unfamiliar with. They need to be supported by having the readings presented in a structure aligned to the other learning activities of the course. A useful strategy is to give students specific questions to consider and reflect upon as they read specific materials. These questions can form the starting point for classroom discussions or be engaged with in online forums. They may also be aligned to specific assessment tasks. Some form of personal response or note taking activity aligned to the readings will help students remember key points from their reading.
First year students in particular may be unfamiliar with the structure of formal academic writing and may need to be helped to identify the different elements (title, abstract, conclusion, bibliography etc.) and to use these effectively in their own reading and writing. They may also be unfamiliar with how to evaluate conflicting material reflecting different views, evidence bases, contexts or research methodologies. All of these situations are opportunities to help students understand the purpose of the readings.
Gasser, U., Cortesi, S., Malik, M., & Lee, A. (2012). Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality. Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=2005272.
Head, A. J. (2013). Learning the Ropes: How Freshmen Conduct Course Research Once They Enter College. Retrieved from http://projectinfolit.org/images/pdfs/pil_2013_freshmenstudy_fullreport.pdf
Nicholas, D., Rowlands, I., Clark, D., & Williams, P. (2011). Google Generation II: Web Behaviour Experiments With the BBC. Aslib Proceedings 63(1), 28-45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00012531111103768
Sundin, O., & Franke, H. (2009). In search of credibility: Pupils’ information practices in learning environments. Information Research 14(4), 1-19.
Reproduce this in Your Own Teaching
This is a quick-start guide for using Talis Aspire in your own teaching. If you would like additional support, contact one of our learning and teaching team
All courses must use Talis Aspire to create and manage readings that have been copied for course reading lists. Course Coordinators are responsible for ensuring their course complies with this requirement.
If you have readings and resources that students need for the course you need to consider whether these need to be added to your course Talis Aspire reading list.
If you have not previously used Talis Aspire please consult your Subject Librarian for advice.
Review the Library Talis subject guide for instructions on how to use the Talis Aspire system.
Once you have created your Talis Aspire reading list you can load this into your Blackboard course for students to access. Make sure include in your course content details for the students about how they should engage with your reading list and what you expect of them. You may wish to add the link to a student guide.
During the course you can check the students activity and review and reflect the level of engagement with readings and to assess the value of your resources. This can be done by accessing your list on https://victoria.rl.talis.com/index.html
or you can also go through your Blackboard link to the Talis Aspire list:
To find out more about Talis Aspire refer to the Library subject guide for Talis Aspire.
This will give information about what resources need to be listed in your Talis Aspire reading list, how to add the links and request digitization of content.
The Talis Aspire system is being used to manage digital readings copied for the benefit of our students enrolled on courses. For further information on copyright compliance rules and requirements please see the University's Copyright information page.
Contact one of our learning and teaching team to discuss these ideas further and for support using the technologies.