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Reading List Hackday

For the next two days I’m at a ‘reading list hackday‘. This is a joint event between DevCSI, List8D and TELSTAR projects – all funded by JISC, and is definitely very much a ‘doing’ event – we are hoping to have people produce ideas, and realise some of those ideas as software – hopefully by the time we wrap up tomorrow.

What is a ‘Reading List’? Generally in an academic context it is a list of recommended or potential reading that tutors give to students. The format of these can vary wildly, and they can range in length from one book, to hundreds of books, articles, websites, etc. etc.

I’ve written quite a bit about how TELSTAR has been integrating reference management tools into Moodle, so what has this got to do with Reading Lists? The TELSTAR project has seen the use of reading lists, and the production of bibliographies in student essays as all part of the same workflow. Anecdotally we’ve found that the materials that students are most likely to reference are those that they’ve been recommended by their tutors, so it makes a lot of sense to make it as easy as possible for students to make a record of what has been recommended, what they have read, and finally what they are citing/referencing in their work.

So, part of the toolset TELSTAR has created is tools for tutors/lecturers to collect together lists of resources, and publish them on their course website. When they publish the lists, we can process the details to do a number of things such as adding links to online resources (using OpenURL) and providing a ‘styled’ version of the reference (whether that is in a formal citation style, or something simpler).

I hope over the next couple of days we can get some ideas and even perhaps get some new developments to TELSTAR. However, the best thing we could get out of the event is the start of an activity developer and user community interested in using and developing the TELSTAR code.

The day has started with Mahendra Mahey (UKOLN and DevCSI) talking about the event – how it came about, and picking up on issues around reading lists – using examples raised on the newly established ‘Reading List Solutions‘ JISCMail list. Then each delegate was asked to give a ’60 second pitch’ outlining why they are here, and what they want to get out of the day. Mahendra summarised a number of themes coming out of discussion on the mailing lists as follows:

  • Interoperability with several systems, particularly Library management systems (e.g. flagging items that are on list)
  • Moving away from platform dependence
  • Intended purpose and usefulness of reading lists
    • should/could read?
    • purchasing/collection management tool
  • Academic vs Student created lists
  • Lists as social network
  • Reliable stable links / Keeping lists up to date
  • Duplication of effort
  • Metadata Magic

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