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My name is Rachel and I am Senior Assistant Librarian at Manchester Metropolitan University. My main role is as Subject Librarian for English and my job share partner and also I have a key role in everything to do with Aspire and reading lists, including overseeing the training of academic staff in how to manage their own list. Today I am going to talk to you about how we have been attempting to engage academics to manage their own resource lists by improving the training we offer.
In 2013, we ran a small pilot project to train academics how to manage their own resource lists using Talis Aspire. Feedback was mixed and whilst participants could see the benefits and found the software to be intuitive several commented that it was time consuming and fiddly and the library were unsure of how to continue. Fast-forward to now and we have really turned a corner but what has changed? In this presentation I will explain how academic staff are now seeing the attraction and potential of managing their own lists. I will focus on the re-development of training sessions, introduction of a new online guide, launch of the Aspire Moodle plug-in developed by Lancaster University and the embedding of Aspire lists into all unit specifications.
Just a bit of background about MMU. In 2010 there was a major UG programme review as part of a project called EQAL – Enhanced Quality and Assessment for Learning. The aim was to raise student satisfaction, engagement and success by providing a more seamless and personalised online experience of university activity. This was to be done by: delivering a new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and supporting tools including the introduction of Talis Aspire which is embedded in all units.
In 2009, the current reading list strategy was devised, in time for each unit to be re-evaluated under the EQAL programme, with a 3 items to purchase, 10 essential reads and 20 further reading titles structure. This ensures clarity with the level of importance, and the Library can try to maintain the appropriate stock levels. Straw polls were undertaken in 2010 and 2013 confirming we were mostly thinking along the right lines for student needs.
2010 straw poll in all sites over 2 week period 501 responses about 80% were UG the rest PG students. Key findings: Most accessed reading lists via VLE not Talis List 36 students didn’t access reading lists at all 84% said they read 10 or fewer items from each reading list 75% said they would consult more items if they were available electronically Additional comments included: reading lists too long (20), need more explanation/annotation (e.g. which are the best items on the reading list to buy/read), not relevant/out of date.
Key to this is making InfoSkills more pervasive – if students aren’t being spoon fed every item on x subject, they need to find more for themselves, so it’s up to the Library to be signposting how and where they can find this information.
And the ultimate aim was to roll out Talis Aspire to academics, so they can control their own online reading lists although it was a conscious decision to delay this until the EQAL programme had settled down. It’s all nicely linked into the University’s PMI (Planning Management system too, so the official unit specs should always contain up to date reading lists. Go to PMI and show list.
We started our rollout pilot in 2013 and we trained 7 members of academic staff individually following the same training guide we use with library staff (show long guide). I think it is fair to say that we felt quite disheartened as although there were positive comments there were also some negative responses regarding the software not being intuitive enough and the process being too time consuming and fiddly. We couldn’t see how we could move forward.
So what changed? I think there were a few things: -My line manager attended the Meeting the Reading List Challenge event in Loughborough and returned full of enthusiasm. When she fed back to the team we felt equally enthused. -The possibility of training academic in how to manage their own list was factored into programme reviews at our MMU Cheshire campus which meant we had a group of academics ready to be trained. -We run annual library refresher sessions for academic staff and when we talked about the option of managing their own list we were surprised at the positive response. I think academics were beginning to realise that the reading list section of Moodle was the only part they couldn’t edit themselves.
-We found that other institutions seemed to be leading group training sessions rather than 1-2-1 -We created a short worksheet to use rather than using the training guide we use for library staff. This worksheet gave them the training necessary to get started editing their own lists. [Show the training guide compared with the nice, shiny worksheet] -We used LibGuides to create a help guide and we added a link to this from the Aspire page.
Promotion. We looked for any opportunity to talk to academic staff and relevant support staff such as the Enhanced Technology Learning Advisers about the training we were offering and the benefits. My main role is as Subject Librarian for English and I really noticed the time and effort academics were taking to email me details of items they would like adding and removing to Aspire lists when instead they could be adding and removing these items themselves with a click of a mouse. I was invited to talk about Aspire at an English Departmental meeting where amongst other things I emphasised the time they could save. I also showed them the Bournemouth video which shows academics talking about their experience of using the software. The reaction was great and we were asked to arrange training soon after.
English are a very proactive department and the Head of Department is also Associate Dean for Student Experience and has been very proactive in ensuring staff attend Aspire training. At a recent Faculty Student Experience Committee an action was set for all Programmes to organise a training session with the library on the reading lists software (PLs).
What we have found. Over the past 9 months we have trained nearly 100 academics Negatives Getting people registered is tricky Installing the bookmark button is time consuming Explaining bookmarking stable URLs can be difficult Staff intensive Managing mixed abilities
Positives Group sessions can be fun Academics help each other Good opportunity to liaise
Feedback we have had so far has been really positive.
We definitely feel like we are on the right track.
It’s great when you have someone in a session who is obviously really enthusiastic and keen to get going.
One of the successes of the training has been the Aspire Moodle plug-in. When Tim Leonard from Lancaster University posted details about the plugin they had developed to lib-aspire we were very excited. We previously had a feature which enabled you to link sections of Moodle to sections of Aspire but we couldn’t embed individual items. There was a flurry of emails between the Library and Learning and Research Technologies Team which is headed by Mark Stubbs. Mark was good enough to fit in some late night programming in what was a hectic Summer to enable the plug-in to work with our system.
One of the issues we are having is we find explaining bookmarking journal articles is really tricky and this is the part of our training session when you sense you might be losing people. We demo the plug-in immediately after and you can immediately sense the energy in the room changing and as they realise the potential.
Has everyone seen the plug-in in action? Show video. Mention lit in RHB.
What next -Create a workflow for managing the review process. -More group sessions and refresher sessions. -Promote Moodle plug-in -Create short video tutorials to add to an updated Helpguide to enable self-training.
We are also considering whether to change the bookmark button to ‘Add to my Aspire bookmarks’ and whether we should roll it out to all staff IE web browsers if this is possible. We are creating video demos on topics such as bookmarking websites, journal articles and we’ll add links to these from the Help Guide. I’d like to improve the guide and perhaps make it more like an online tutorial. We’ll be doing everything we can to make Aspire attractive including the possibility of linking in book ordering.
Currently it is myself and my job share partner leading training sessions but we would ideally like to have more Aspire champions.
We have re-written the Reading List Policy Review which is very much the status quo. However it does now include the following:
Currently these lists are created by library staff but in the medium/longer term, the lists will be created by lecturers using Talis Aspire (intuitive reading list software, designed for use by teaching staff rather than librarians), coded with the unit code, and published in the portal and the VLE and via the library catalogue.
We’ve recently been reviewing our reading list policy and consulting with academic staff. On the whole it has been a success but I think we are realising that it doesn’t work as well for subjects such as history, sociology and philosophy so we need to have exceptions for these departments.
Engaging Academics through improved training
Engaging Academics Through
Rachel Fell, MMU
Group training sessions
Getting people registered tricky
Installing bookmark button
Explaining bookmarking journal
Academics help each
“The training session was
very useful and
informative and, as a
result, I felt confident to
experiment with the
“It was a very useful, a
very hands-on training
session that really
helped me get going
“A great way of making
essential reading easily
“The session was
• Assess review process
• More group sessions
• Promote Moodle plug-in
• Create short video tutorials
Currently these lists are created by library staff
but in the medium/longer term, the lists will be
created by lecturers using Talis Aspire (intuitive
reading list software, designed for use by
teaching staff rather than librarians), coded with
the unit code, and published in the portal and
the VLE and via the library catalogue.
Reading List Policy Review
Rachel Fell – firstname.lastname@example.org
Oliver Hammond via Flickr