Dr Katy Appleton (ENV) has been using Talis’ Reading online system for the past 2 years to host the supporting reading for her module: ENV-4004Y Research and Field Skills (ENV 1st year). She also teaches on ENV-5028B GIS Skills for Project Work and ENV-4010Y Geographical Perspectives and for these two modules she has created her own sections within the online reading lists for ENV-5028B and ENV-4010Y to support her lectures.
There is no compulsory reading for ENV-4004Y Research and Field Skills. The module aims to introduce a range of transferable skills, tools and data resources that are widely used in research in Environmental Sciences, and the reading list therefore is designed to provide additional information sources that the students can refer to, as and when needed throughout their studies. For this reason, Dr Appleton chose to organise the list into sections by Topic, rather than weekly readings, so students can find the material easily at a later date.
Dr Appleton likes the ability to add notes to items on the Reading list, both as a guide to the student and as an “aide memoire” for herself, e.g. “Includes a valuable section on what research is not, as well as the characteristics of genuine, formal research”; and to highlight potential problems that students may encounter, e.g. “**Note that the figures in the chapter are in black and white - there is a separate ebook entry for the colour plates.”
Talking generally about her experiences of using Talis, Dr Appleton says that she finds the system easy to update both at work and at home and has not encountered any problems.
Dr Gill Seyfang (ENV) was an early adopter of the Talis Online Reading list system and has been using it for the past two years. She currently has two reading lists: ENV-7025A Sustainable Consumption (PgT module) and ENV-4012Y Human Geographies of a Changing World (U/g module).
Gill has used the Talis “Create a new section” feature to highlight Key study, presentation and life skills reading, key texts and then weekly compulsory and optional additional reading so that the students can easily find the material they need to read for their next lecture / seminar or workshop. There is a range of reading material listed: print/ ebooks, journal articles, webpages, reports, videos, (even a link to a collaborative facebook group!), with useful guidance notes added for the students, e.g. “must be completed before the seminar - bring your results”.
Asked about her experiences of the Talis system, Dr Seyfang confessed that she had anticipated some teething problems, being a new system, and expected to receive some grumbling from students when she first adopted it, but they have all been very positive - “they love it and say it makes finding the material easier”. The bulk of the material can be uploaded well in advance, giving students the advantage to prepare early if they want.
For Dr Seyfang, it is the flexibility of the system that appeals: ENV-4012Y is co-taught by several different lecturers: “As a module organiser, Talis has made it easy for me to delegate the responsibility of reading list creation for each week to my co-lecturers on this module”. She especially likes the flexibility to update the reading lists at short notice allowing last minute updating to reflect current topical news events.
Katie McGhee (HSC), Lecturer and Course Director in Child Health Nursing, School of Health Sciences, leads the course Children and Young People’s Nursing 2016/17, with over 100 students. Her reading list contains about 50 items, a mix of e-journal articles, webpage hosted reports, ebooks and books. These are organised by the course’s main themes, helping students identify material supporting specific areas and focusing their reading, rather than as weekly readings. She updates the list as new resources come to her attention, which she wants her students to engage with.
Some of the additional functions have enabled Katie to assist partners in the NHS who have responsibility for mentoring students on their placements. Exporting PDFs have helped nursing mentors understand the kind of material that the students were being expected to study. She had also used this to inform colleagues on the Children and Young People’s Nursing Academics [CYPNAUK] group, a forum for ChYP academics.
There are some features, which Katie can see the benefit of, but hasn’t yet had the chance to fully explore. She could see the potential of the “Dashboard” function and is going to explore its learning analytics options with colleagues, to see if this could be useful for managing students’ engagement with their learning. She could also see the benefits of the “Read Status” function. She will reviewing some of her teaching practices to see how she can encourage students to engage with this, when she has a new cohort. The additional learner analytics and information for students will beneficial.
Whilst Katie acknowledges there are some challenges in linking the list to all the nursing modules, the benefits of such a list go wider than just the modules that it is linked to. There are opportunities to engage with colleagues delivering other courses within the school or cross schools to use material from such a list in their own teaching, sharing knowledge and informing all relevant teaching. Within HSC they are a useful tool to support the move from profession- discrete training of illness-treatment to thinking about educational courses as supporting the health promotion to all patients from childhood onwards. The reading list software can help to promote resources from all modules to be used by others where required.
Katie feels that all Course Directors and module leads should be engaged with this software and familiar with how to use it. “It is an excellent resource” - giving a framework - “If I don’t know what the literature is how can I expect them to?”