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Sharing References

A lot of the TELSTAR project has focussed on how authors or tutors put references into course materials, and how students can then take copies of those references and manage them. However something we’ve always wanted to look at is how references might be shared by students between themselves.

We originally had thought of this functionality as perhaps allowing a student to ‘publish’ a reference (or set of references) to a public area – this is similar to how many Reference Management packages enable sharing – for example RefShare functionality in RefWorks, and concepts of publishing your library, and using Groups in Zotero.

However, the more we talked about the possible ways of sharing, and particularly talked to students about what they would find useful, we realised that this idea of ‘publishing’ a set of references probably wasn’t what was needed. It was also clear that students didn’t particularly want to share ‘references’ – they wanted to share ‘resources’ (i.e. the thing that the reference is pointing at). We came to the conclusion that within the Open University’s learning environment, the most likely place students might want to share a resource/reference was on a forum.

So, we have developed a way of enabling references to be inserted in Moodle forum posts, as well as Moodle wiki pages and Moodle blog posts. To see how this works watch the video below:

The problem we have with this mechanism is that the ‘cut and paste’ of a horrid chunk of ‘escaped’ xml is as ugly as it gets in terms of a user interface 🙁 However, we are really pleased with the result in terms of how the references appear in the forums/wikis/blogs – we automatically add links to online version where possible and students (or staff) can take copies to MyReferences or other Reference Management software.

So, we are left with a quandry – is this functionality worth releasing to students? Could we release it to tutors only? Does the end result justify the clunky cut and paste mechanism?

Any comments welcome!


  • Feb 5th 201023:02
    by Mr. Gunn

    Mendeley provides an embed code for pasting references or collections of references into blog posts or forum entries. It’s still pasting code, but it’s not as ugly. Would that help?

    If you like, I can demo this for you.

  • Feb 6th 201011:02
    by ostephens

    Sounds interesting – can you point me at how I do this (I’ve already got a Mendeley account).

  • Feb 6th 201019:02
    by nogbad

    This looks really interesting and would certainly be useful. Thanks for flagging it!

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