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Digital Literacies in Higher Education – a JISC funded project at the IOE

October 14th, 2013 by Nazlin Bhimani in Library and Archives

Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute (JISC-IOE Study)

The ‘Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute’ project was run at the IOE between 2011 and 2013 and is one of twelve recent JISC projects in the broad area of academic literacies.  A newly published IOE LibGuide:  Digital Literacies in Higher Education summarises the findings from the IOE  study.

Though the research project focussed on postgraduate students (the IOE being mainly a postgraduate institution until its recent intake of undergraduate students in 2012), the findings share similarities to other user behaviour studies such as the Google Generation and User Behaviour in Resource Discovery studies which focus on undergraduate students. Read the rest of this entry »

Alternatives to Google Reader

April 30th, 2013 by Nazlin Bhimani in Library and Archives, Research Support

From 1st July 2013, Google Reader will no longer be available.  If you have been using Google Reader to save your RSS feeds (to keep current with research), you can export the feeds to other readers.  This post suggests a few that I have tried and which I think are almost as good as Google’s Reader.  However, the suggestions come with a warning – we didn’t expect the plug to be pulled on Reader as it is popular and has a large following; this could also happen to the readers I am suggesting below so I would recommend that you save your feeds on a regular basis (by exporting them – see below for instructions) and using two readers just in case one dies a sudden death like Reader.

Computer/Laptop Readers

If you read your feeds on a computer or a laptop, the following two readers are extremely user-friendly:  The Old Reader and CommaFeed  Both are working quickly to develop Apps for mobile devices which they promise will be ready by the end of June 2013.  Instructions on how to export your RSS feeds from Google Reader to The Old Reader and to CommaFeed are attached.

Mobile RSS Apps

If you read your feeds on mobile devices such your smart phone or tablet, I can recommend a couple of apps:   Zite  and Feedly.  Both of these are available from the App Store and both have received good reviews hence my recommendation.  Feedly is also available as a reader on a browser (Firefox, Safari and Chrome).

Open source software relies on the goodwill of people in terms of time they give to developing an application and donations by individuals.  This software can very easily be available one day and not the next as open source companies may go out of business.  My advice to you is to back up your feeds on a regular basis and use more than one reader – especially if you are not able to access your feeds because the server is over capacity (this has just happened to me with Feedly which is very popular).  If you suddenly find a reader is unavailable, you certainly won’t want to have to start from scratch  if you keep updates.  We haven’t had to do this with Google as we have been given time to prpare for Google Reader’s demise.  Do also be aware that if you use RSS on a browser and your hardware develops a fault, you could also lose your feeds with your computer/laptop.  So be safe and use at least a couple of readers.  Google has taught us a valuable lesson  - not to rely on its products or on technology as this post in Forbes explains so clearly.

As the time of Google Reader’s demise draws nearer, many more software companies are announcing replacements so watch this space for more recommendations as I try new feed readers to keep current with research.

Learning and teaching with E-books

April 2nd, 2012 by Gwyneth in Library and Archives

At the IOE Learning & Teaching Conference last week I presented a session with two academic colleagues: Esmé Glauert and Clare Bentall.  My part of the session was simply a reminder of the availability of ebooks and how to use them – you can find that information in our guide. Clare provided the learning perspective by looking at survey results from a small group of Masters students. I was slightly surprised by how many students had actually used e-books, but not by their disappointment with them; I think most librarians are aware of the shortcomings, as are the publishers and aggregators. Nevertheless the majority say yes to more e-books, though plenty still prefer hard copy. Opinions closely reflect the results of an investigation by Sherlock Holmes at Cambridge University!

This session really came about because Esmé had raised with me questions about how her teaching might change as a result of the availability of e-books. In the session she reflected on the shift in what PGCE students are expected to read, moving from an emphasis on books to journal articles and grey literature. Although this means that students are more engaged with recent research, they find it harder to build up a sense of the territory often provided by authoritative texts. The risks of focusing exclusively on resources available electronically include a neglect of historical texts and a lack of direct contact with the library. Esmé also talked about the difficulties of reading online and the challenges as noted in a recent article in Time Also the issues raised when teaching face to face sessions when some students have laptops while others are using notes or only sections of the text (sometimes because they can only print 5% of the book which may not be the whole chapter). Esmé suggested that tutors may need to set different kinds of tasks and have different expectations when working with e-books if students are to benefit from the increasing availability of texts in this format. And of course we need to continue to negotiate with publishers and aggregators to get the e-books we need.

It was a fascinating discussion which relates closely to the Digital Literacies project I’m involved in, you can see an update on the project as reported by Martin Oliver at the Learning & Teaching Conference.

How digitally literate are you?

January 10th, 2012 by Nazlin Bhimani in Library and Archives, Research Support

How digitally literate are researchers and researcher development professionals?

How is digital technology being used for research and to develop researchers?

At what rate are higher education institutions embedding digital literacies in researcher development?

In order to answer some of these interesting questions, and to ensure that higher education institutions and their members are fully supported in becoming digitally literate, please take 5 minutes to  participate in this short questionnaire.

Vitae invite staff involved in researcher development and researchers (doctoral and research staff) to complete a short online survey that focuses specifically on the digital literacy of researchers and institutional staff in researcher development roles. This significant cross-institutional baseline study is part of the Developing Digital Literacies programme, funded by JISC and supported by Vitae along with a number of other professional associations.

The purpose of Vitae involvement in the Developing Digital Literacies programme is to promote the development of coherent, inclusive and holistic institutional strategies and organisational approaches for developing digital literacies in higher education.

Results will be made anonymous, then published in an aggregate public report in February 2012. The results will enable Vitae to refine sector activities that focus on digital literacy such as the extremely popular Digital Researcher event (held jointly with the British Library) for researchers and research staff, and will be used to support the researcher development community to establish new approaches for developing digital literacy for researchers and the researcher development community in higher education.

The closing date for submissions is 24 January 2012.

Please support us and complete this short survey at:

RSS: Keeping up with research

December 9th, 2011 by Nazlin Bhimani in Library and Archives, Research Support

I am often asked by students how to keep current with new research output and my advice is to set up alerts using some of the new (RSS) and not so new (Email) technologies available to us.  Before I begin explaining how you can set up alerts, I need to provide a few definitions . . .

What are alerts?

Alerts are notifications either via email or as RSS of something of interest to you which has been published in a new issue of a journal or added to a database or website.  The frequency of notification will vary from publisher to publisher or database provider or website owner but setting up alerts will ensure that you are aware of all new materials being published.

Having said this, it is worth noting that not all databases, journals or websites enable alerting – many of the older sites do not have the option to set up alerts.  You can only set up an alert if you see one of these symbols:   RSS or XML or Subscribe .

What is RSS?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndicate” and ‘RSS feeds’ enable the aggregation of information in one place, most usually in a ‘Reader’.  There are a number of ‘Readers’ that pick up these feeds.  The most commonly used ones are: Google Reader, RSS Reader on your email client (this maybe disabled in your work environment) and the ‘in-built’ RSS Reader on your browser. Read the rest of this entry »

Information and digital literacies

September 30th, 2011 by Gwyneth in Library and Archives

This is the time of year when library staff have a particular focus on the information literacy needs of our students. This week the Enquiry Desk team is exploring the SCONUL seven pillars model and its “doughnut” and how that relates to the enquiries we receive from students, staff and visitors.

SCONUL information literacy "doughnut"

We are about to explore in more depth the relationship between information literacy and digital literacies through a JISC funded project which will investigate Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute and I’ve been relieved to find that, so far, everything I want to read is in the library or accessible via the catalogue. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to find out more about how digital literacies can be developed at the IOE and there will be plenty of opportunities for student involvement once the project gets underway.