At the beginning of July I attended the 2 day Talis user group at the University of Leicester. The event was a mixture of group discussion, presentations and panel discussions and was generally an interesting update on what other universities are doing with the Aspire reading list system and the developments Talis are currently working on.
In the first session we talked about promoting Reading Lists and some attendees had brought along their marketing materials. These included coasters, postcards (with unique photos taken from the Edinburgh University archive), short videos of academics talking about the benefits of lists and a screenwipe. I’m told this last was very popular particularly with tablet users who carry it around in their iPad (or other tablet) case. One university send an automatic email from Moodle to the module owner if no list is detected (wonder if we can do that?).
One idea that caught everyone’s attention – and won the ‘best list’ prize – was Edinburgh University’s ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ reading list. This serves as both a useful resource to help users understand how to find and use library resources and as an example of ‘good practice’ in reading lists that can be demo’d to academics in Aspire training sessions. Edinburgh have a reading list blog as well as the list itself.
Day 2 focused more on future developments for Aspire. Most excitingly Talis are (finally!) working on significant improvements to the Reviews area. No date yet for when this will be available but this work should fix many of the problems we’ve raised since we’ve been using RLO. These include; showing clearly where new items have been added to a list; all previous review information will be kept (not deleted); multiple instances of an item will be grouped together (so no more reviewing the same items 3 times becauses it’s listed in 3 places) plus much more.
Talis are also starting to develop a new product, currently known as the Lighthouse project. The idea is that all resources – PDFs, video, audio recording etc- can be delivered through a universal player. The player will be able to capture detailed statistical information about what and how resources are being used so academics will have the ability to really understand how students interact with their teaching materials. Are any videos being played repeatedly? Which secions in particular are being re-played? Are any of their students failing to use resources at all? The player will be designed to work in any environment- in Moodle, on a mobile, online or offline.
All the presentations are available on the Talis website.