July 2009

Page 1

Volume 4, no. 4 July 2009

ISSN 17479258

ALISS Quarterly

Association of Librarians and Information professionals in the Social Sciences

Using technology in education Web 2.0 A beginner’s guide to Twitter, Educational Twitter resources, alternative gaming and information literacy, personal home pages Geo-spatial learning The Spatial Literacy in Teaching and Learning CETL (SPLINT), ShareGeo Support services for the Community JISC Digital Media; ESDS; LEXDIS

ALISS Quarterly Volume 4 no. 4 July 2009

ALISS Quarterly Vol. 4 Number 4 July 2009 © The authors

Special issue: using technology in education

Each article is copyrighted to its author(s) and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or data retrieval system without prior written permission from the author(s) and full acknowledgement to ALISS.

Editorial Heather Dawson

Editor: Heather Dawson h.dawson@lse.ac.uk

Aliss annual review 2008

Published by ALISS.

Web 2.0 and education A beginner’s guide to Twitter Paul Ayres, Research Officer, Intute Educational Twitter resources Heather Dawson, LSE library SPLASH (Students Personal Learning and Social Homepages) Tony Hudson and Hesan Yousif, University of Sussex Alternate Reality Gaming to Support Information Literacy Nicola Whitton, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, Rosie Jones, Library, Manchester Metropolitan University

Geo-spatial learning Perspectives on spatial literacy in teaching and learning Claire H. Jarvis, Leicester Site manager & co-PI, SPLINT CETL Department of Geography, University of Leicester ShareGeo – Discovering and sharing geospatial data, Guy McGarva, EDINA, University of Edinburgh

Support services for the Community JISC Digital Media: Supporting the sector’s digital media needs Zak Mensah, JISC Digital Media, e-Learning Officer ESDS and librarians Lorna Balkan, Outreach and Promotion Officer, Economic and Social Data Service LexDis – Disabled Learners’ Experiences of e-learning E.A Draffan, Mike Wald, Jane Seale, University of Southampton.


Welcome to the latest edition of ALISS Quarterly. It has been published by ALISS (Association of Librarians and Information Professionals in the Social Sciences). This special issues raises the question of whether technology can aid learning. It was inspired by a recent JISC conference Opening Digital Doors which took place in March 2009 which covered a range of issues relating to the benefits and challenges of technology in teaching and learning. Many of the presentations can be viewed online from their website at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/2009/03/jiscconference09/programme. aspx . There are some excellent sessions on whether technology can improve student motivation and retention as well as summaries of key UK projects involving open access repositories and e-books. This issue follows up on these themes. The first section contains articles on web 2.0 and its potential uses. Paul Ayres provides an excellent introduction to Twitter and this is followed by our recommended twitter resources for educational use. The section also contains articles on two projects which have attempted to use the new technology to reach out to users. They involve gaming at Manchester Metropolitan University and the creation of personal home pages at the University of Sussex. Another area of study in which technology is particularly appropriate in enhancing the opportunities for more interesting and effective learning is geography. The second session focuses on two projects which have been exploiting new technology to enhance geo-spatial learning: the SPLINT Project which has been working in a number of UK universities to develop online tools for students and ShareGeo which is offering users of Digimap the facility to share geospatial datasets. Finally the issue concludes with overviews of a number of support services which can help Library and Information staff in delivering new technology. These include the new JISC Digital media, the work of the Economic and Social data Service and LEXDIS which has been working to suppoted disabled learner’s use of technology. Remember that you can keep up to date with ALISS news by subscribing to our free electronic mailing list LIS_SOCIAL SCIENCE at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/LISSOCIALSCIENCE.html . Have you seen our new website at: http://www.alissnet.org.uk ?

We hope you enjoy the issue!

Heather Dawson. ALISS Secretary

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

ALISS AGM 2009: Credit Crunch and Libraries: managing in difficult times The 2009 ALISS AGM was held at the British Library on 5th May 2009. Three speakers were invited to give presentations on the topical theme of The Credit Crunch and Libraries: managing in difficult times. 1. Julie Boyd-Reynolds, Corporate Sales Manager of EBSCO covered the corporate services offered by EBSCO to their customers. It also highlighted the annual Periodicals Price Survey published every April in Library Journal (compiled using some data from EBSCO databases) which can offer Librarians data on what prices to expect and track trends in particular subject areas for the last 5 years. It can be read on line at http://www. libraryjournal.com/article/CA6547086.html?q=periodicals+price+survey . 2. Liam Earney Collections Team Manager, JISC Collections (http://www.jisc-collections. ac.uk/) gave a paper entitled National licensing in a time of economic uncertainty: JISC Collections response to the economic & financial crisis. It provided background on the current economic situation and its impact on Uk academic libraries. It then outlined the measures JISC is taking to help which include negotiation with leading e-resources suppliers. The slides can be viewed at http://www.slideshare.net/heatherdawson/ earneyagm2009 . 3. Sally Halper, Lead Content Specialist – Business & Management, British Library gave an introduction to collection evaluation techniques for academic libraries. These introduced some really good practical qualitative and quantitative tools including White’s brief tests. A technique based on a shortened version of conspectus which uses 40 selected titles to assess and bench the quality and strengths of an academic library collection in relation to others. The slides can be viewed online at http://www. slideshare.net/heatherdawson/halperagm2009 . A bibliography of further readings is also provided. The following report on ALISS activities was submitted. Full minutes can be viewed on the ALISS website.

Committee Membership 2008/9 Margaret Anderson Queens University Belfast Heather Dawson – LSE Library (Secretary and Editor ALISS Quarterly) Jennie Grimshaw – British Library (Treasurer) Helen Mackin – Barnardos Norma Menabney Queens University Belfast Anne Dagpunar School of Oriental and African Studies Library Angela Upton – SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) Chair Angela Joyce ILRT University of Bristol Diane Kearns University of Bradford ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

Sally Patalong University of Coventry

Changes during 2008/9 We welcomed the following new committee member Sally Patalong, University of Coventry. The following member stood down. Dr. Jane Secker (LSE Centre For Learning Technology).

ALISS Activities During 2008/9 Membership. During 2008-9 we were able to retain membership fees at the same cost. This encouraged more individual members to join. Efforts are continuing to contact pressure groups and more universities across the UK. Helen Mackin has been nominated as a publicity officer and is targeting key organisations including CILIP with details of our events.

Conferences and workshop August 2008 summer conference Web 2.0 policy and Practice. December 2008 event: SCIE and Social care online. March 2009 Web 2.0 hands on workshop in Bristol.

Visits Visits took place to the following social science libraries/ information centres and continued to prove very popular. Commonwealth Institute Institute of Psychiatry Royal Armouries Library Middle temple Library Clothworkers hall and Archive British Library EDC

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The ALISS Web Site

ALISS continues to publish the journal ALISS Quarterly.

ALISS maintains a website at: http://www.alissnet.org.uk/

Special issues were on new ways of supporting researchers, web 2.0, Digital repositories.

If you would like to request any further information about ALISS or send any comments please contact Heather Dawson, ALISS Secretary at h.dawson@lse.ac.uk .

The winner of the annual prize for the most inspiring and informative article is Kate Robinson for her article on around the World in 80+ Books, an innovative project involving international students in Library collection development at the University of Bath. http://opus.bath.ac.uk/448/1/aliss%252080%2520plus.pdf . The runner up is Miggie Pickton for her article on developing the institutional repository at the University of Northampton. http://nectar.northampton.ac.uk/1283/ .

LSE Library, 10 Portugal Street London WC2A 2HD.

Forthcoming Activities. A series of visits are planned including: London Zoo archive, University of Oxford social sciences library, London Metropolitan Archive. Summer 2009 conference planned for July at the University of Coventry general theme marketing the library service in difficult times. Proposed revamp / re-design of our website to incorporate more dynamic web 2.0 features!

How to Find Out about more ALISS Activities. LIS-SOCIALSCIENCE ALISS maintains an electronic mailing list LIS-SOCIALSCIENCE that is hosted by the national educational service JISCmail. This is used to disseminate information about forthcoming events and to discuss current social science concerns. Once a week an update is posted from Intute, which contains a useful listing of new additions to the Intute: social sciences database. These frequently include links to recently published government reports, official statistics and full text working papers available on the Internet. Members have often found these useful in tracing recent government and think tank publications and others have used them as examples in Internet training for their users. You can consult recent mailing from the list and find out how to sign up to it at: www.jiscmail. ac.uk/lists/LIS-SOCIALSCIENCE.html .

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

A beginner’s guide to Twitter Paul Ayres Research Officer, Intute http://www.intute.ac.uk/ Twitter is the social networking application of the moment, with celebrities, politicians, organisations and individuals talking about it. But what is Twitter, does it have any use in education and how can you get the best out of it.

What is Twitter? Twitter is a short messaging service that enables users to publish updates that are a maximum of 140 characters long. Here’s an example: Right, time for a Twitter break – I’ve got to crack on with an article for ALISS http://www. alissnet.org.uk/ ... about Twitter. It asks the question “what are you doing?” and is similar to the status update feature on Facebook. Perhaps it could be better summed up as asking what has got your attention or what do you care about right now. Some have described it as a microblogging service, although with so few characters it can only really record sentences or thoughts rather than paragraphs or arguments. Users can update their status from the website http://twitter.com/ from their mobile phone or by using one of a huge range of dedicated applications – making it very easy to supplement text based updates with links to websites, photos or audio / video clips.

• • • • • • •

Find out about new websites Discover and pass on news Develop new contacts Gain a reputation by passing on knowledge and answering questions Get to know existing contacts much better Help spread the word about work and what you are doing Monitor what people are already saying about you or your service

This interaction happens at a fast pace, meaning that Twitter is a gold mine for real time search updates of what is happening online that is quicker than email or blogging. Although do not rely on Twitter as an archive, it is a communication channel and as such, is essentially disposable. All that is Twittered about is not gold and it takes a critical mass of followers to get the most from Twitter, but once you’ve spent a little time getting to grips with it you can gain real benefits such as:

Crowdsourcing knowledge Providing an update on Twitter only takes a few key strokes and as a consequence it is often used to ask and answer questions. This is most effective within a relatively large group of followers allowing you to take advantage of the collective brain power of a group. Take this to the extreme and ask your Twitter followers for their thoughts on an upcoming presentation topic, include them in your slides, encourage questions during the talk and use them to stimulate discussion in the room. For an example of this try: http:// www.intute.ac.uk/blog/2009/03/24/the-intute-twitter-500/

The social networking side of Twitter is what makes it work. Once signed up and logged in, users can follow other people they are interested in and receive their updates in a timeline format. Similarly other people can follow your updates, but as the system is entirely opt-in, the potential for spam and unwanted updates is greatly reduced.

What can Twitter be used for? Even if the mechanics of Twitter seem fairly straightforward, many people still ask – what’s the point of Twitter? Twitter is a lot like talking, so you could respond – well, what’s the point of talking? Hopefully you do not go into a conversation in the tea room at work with strategic aims and objectives in mind, a policy document to hand about appropriate discussion topics and a project plan to allocate the biscuits – most of the time you just chat. Essentially Twitter has become a word-of-mouth information exchange service, that like a good conversation can enable you to:

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

Amplifying conferences and events Conference delegates are increasingly Tweeting about the topics being discussed, asking questions, linking to background documents and offering alternative perspectives. By adding an agreed hashtag – the hash key plus a normal “tag” or keyword – such as #jisc09 – it’s possible to track the conversation via Twitter Search http://search.twitter.com/ or other applications. This means that those who cannot attend can get a feel for what is happening, those who are there can be more involved and the impact of an event can be greatly increased.

Guiding conversation and learning With a group of students or others looking at a common topic it is possible to aggregate Tweets on a particular subject guiding classroom discussion and encouraging contributions from those who may be reluctant to speak.

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

An example of this is available from Dr. Monica Rankin, Professor of History at UT Dallas, who even used Twitter to collaborate with her students while she was away on a trip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WPVWDkF7U8

An instant focus group Sites such as Social Mention http://www.socialmention.com/ make it very easy to monitor what is being said about your product or service via email updates, a web search or RSS newsfeeds. It’s possible to answer user queries by sending them a Twitter reply – use the @ sign plus their username – for example @intute. Building up a group of followers means that you have instant access to a free focus group to test new features on, ask about current services and get feedback. Odds are that people will be talking about your service anyway, so it is better to be part of the conversation and be responsive.

Ways of Twittering Like a lot of Web 2.0 or social media websites, it can be difficult to draw a line between professional and personal use. Perhaps the best way of getting to know Twitter is by starting off in a purely personal capacity and over time you may mention work related issues and think of work related uses that could lead you to Twittering in a more official capacity. Just remember – don’t Tweet about anything that may affect your reputation or that of your workplace.

Intute has experimented with two ways of offering Twitter updates: Passive Twittering This is where you repurpose some existing content by sending it Twitter. You can update a channel with news items, blog posts or other information. If you have content that is available as an RSS newsfeed, send it to a service such as Twitterfeed http://twitterfeed.com/ and it will automatically update your Twitter account whenever there is something new. This is the approach undertaken by the Intute: Economics channel http://twitter.com/intuteeconomics

Intute now offers a range of subject based feeds covering subjects in the Social Sciences and beyond. However a hybrid of these two approaches is being used to Twitter on behalf of the service as a whole – with a mix of automated updates from existing Intute services plus personal updates too. http://twitter.com/intute

Why has Twitter been so successful? An important part of the success of Twitter is it’s simplicity – it chooses to do one thing, rather than suffer the feature creep of some other social networking services, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery the redesigns of Facebook, FriendFeed and other websites to look rather more like Twitter mean that Twitter must be doing something right. By providing an API and open access to data Twitter has encouraged web developers to produce applications and services that use Twitter data. This creates goodwill within the early adopter community of IT professionals, creates a buzz around the service and gives users a range of different ways of interacting with the site. Mainstream adoption of Twitter has also been helped by celebrity endorsements. High profile Twitterers like Stephen Fry have used the service to interact with their fans, bypass the mainstream media to correct false stories and help promote other sites, services or charities by mentioning them on Twitter. Twitter could be described as the messaging service we didn’t know that we needed. But it’s rapid rise has shown that there is an appetite for this sort of public discussion space and whether Twitter dominates this arena or a new service emerges, the power of real time web searching, instant user support, brand monitoring and the chance to interact with an interested group of followers means that Twitter or something like it, will be here to stay. Now time to update my Twitter status … … have finished my article about Twitter and now need to add some new resources and see what people are saying about Intute. http://twitter.com/intute

Active Twittering Here a real person provides updates, interacts with users and aims to become a trusted guide to a topic. Twitter should be about conversation, rather than just broadcasting, so this is a good way of getting feedback from users or potential users of your service. This has been the approach undertaken by the Intute: Psychology channel. http://twitter.com/intutepsychuk ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009



Educational Twitter resources

UK Parliament Twitter feed

Heather Dawson, LSE library


The previous article discussed the merits and challenges of using Twitter in education. In this brief article, I will highlight some good examples which you might like to follow!

is produced by the web team in the UK Parliament. It includes coverage of current issues being debated in the House of Commons; parliamentary committees and Prime Ministers Question Time. All aspects of government domestic and foreign policy are covered.

News sites Are ideally suited for offering twitter updates. They can include brief coverage of the latest events from journalists in the field. Often they give you a sense of participating in unfolding events with insight into the personal experiences of journalists who use them as a means to communicate amongst themselves as well as the wider world. For instance a recent example was usage by journalists on the scene at the Turkish airlines plane crash in Amsterdam in February 2009 (see http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/02/25/ twitter.amsterdam.plane.crash/ and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/ technology/twitter/4806238/Amsterdam-plane-crash-Twitter-social-media-and-theanatomy-of-a-disaster.html ) to provide the first brief reports of and ask if eye witnesses could respond with their own accounts.

USA.gov: Twitter http://twitter.com/USAgov is produced by the web team responsible for maintaining the official web portal of the U.S. federal government. It provides access to free news feed updates from the United States central government. Get listings of events, publications and news.

White House Twitter http://twitter.com/whitehouse contains postings by official presidential staff. These cover the latest press releases, meetings and policy releases from American President Barack Obama and his central government team.

Channel 4 news Twitter https://twitter.com/channel4news

10 Downing Street Twitter

provides access to free news feed updates from the Channel 4 news team. They include coverage of current British economic, social and political news


likewise the Guardian newspaper http://twitter.com/guardiannews has its own account which updates in brief snippets throughout the day.

provides updates from the British prime Minister in real time. This can be a real bonus in recent scandals such as those concerning MPs expenses or cabinet reshuffles. It also sends timely alerts to forthcoming live broadcasts and webcasts by the PM which you might want to watch on your PC. However, the problem with Twitter is that it is often difficult to trace the existence of ‘official sites’ as many spoofs exist. A few good directories of political Twitter feeds are:

Often it is possible to target your news updates to specific sections of a news service or journal. For instance the New York Times has a books section http://twitter.com/ nytimesbooks with links through to publishing industry news and the latest book reviews.

GovTwit directory

Other current affairs magazines such as the Economist http://twitter.com/theeconomist also have excellent news headlines on their Twitter accounts. These not only highlight the fuller articles on their official websites and blogs, they also provide added spontaneous comment on unfolding events.

created by BearingPoint, a US based management and technology consulting company. It provides a listing with links to American government agencies using Twitter and other web 2.0 social networking tools. It lists federal and state government services, plus reporters and academic commentators. Entries give Twitter names and blog/websites.

Political sites


Many national governments are developing their own Twitter accounts which can be useful for keeping up to date with the latest debates, official publications and daily events. ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009


http://tweetminster.co.uk/ aims to provide an up to date directory and listing of UK MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates who are using the social networking service Twitter. It is possible ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009


to browse the listing by political party (with sections for Labour Party, Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats) search by geographical place name / post code and to view basic statistics on the number of British MPs who currently use Twitter. On a more local level there is also

Cllr tweeps: finding and following the UK’s tweeting councillors http://cllrtweeps.com/ This site has been developed by James Cousins and Dafydd Bach. It aims to provide an up to date directory and listing of UK councillors and local government officials using Twitter so constituents can contact them directly using it. It is possible to browse the listing by geographical region. The US equivalent is

TweetCongress.org http://tweetcongress.org/ which also has listings of individual representatives. Another major category of users are international organisations. The service is a particularly efficient tool for those engaged in peace and or emergency operations where the latest news is vital.


site was created by the African Elections Project, an initiative co-ordinated by the International Institute for ICT Journalism with funding from Open Society Initiative for West Africa. It used the free social networking and microblogging service Twitter to capture comment on the 2009 presidential elections in Malawi. Users to the site can read the postings, many of which link to news stories and comment from journalists based in Malawi newspapers. They offer insight into the events and campaigns as they unrolled during 2009.

TweetElect09.EU http://www.tweetelect09.eu/ Site was created by public relations consultancy Burson-Marsteller EMEA to provide coverage of the use of micro-blogging service Twitter during the 2009 European Parliament elections. It automatically checked for tweets containing hashtags relating to European elections. Analysis was also conducted on the content of the messages. The website provides access to postings. These include news feeds for individual, parties and news services in a variety of EU nations. It also contains statistics on the most talked about country, political party, figures and themes in relation to the elections. Information about methodology is provided on the website. Finally a few sites where you can find information on useful ‘official twitter sites’.

The American Red Cross http://twitter.com/redcross

Open culture

uses it for relaying the latest disaster facts and statistics, as well as updates from the field. For instance during the height of the California bush wildfires in January 2009, they set up a specialist Safe and Well Twitter account https://disastersafe.redcross.org/default.aspx where individuals who did not have access to the internet could use their mobile phones to send a single message to their family and friends about their situation.


Commonwealth Secretariat Twitter

Resource shelf

http://twitter.com/commonwealthsec Likewise the official Twitter feed of the Commonwealth Secretariat covers Commonwealth conferences and summits; election observation missions, educational, development and human rights programmes undertaken by organisations of the Commonwealth. Other feeds have been set up to cover specific situations, providing a focal point for the exchange of information from a range of groups, including citizen journalists, official news services and other officials.

is a free blog authored by Dan Colman. It aims to scour the Internet for the best cultural and educational media and is particularly good at listing and highlighting quality open access educational sites and online courses. It has a special section which lists cultural and educational sites on Twitter. Also excellent is

http://www.resourceshelf.com/ Gary Price’s weblog with search engines news, research-oriented resources, and an opt-in weekly newsletter. You can search the website to provide listings on Twitter. In the past these have been especially good in highlighting search engines which specialise in searching tweets, tools for generating statistics on trends in twitter usage and large scale directories which every librarian should know about!

Malawi votes 2009 Twitter http://twitter.com/malawivotes2009

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009



SPLASH (Students Personal Learning and Social Homepages)


Tony Hudson and Hesan Yousif, University of Sussex The live release of the software included the following facilities:

Aims SPLASH was developed from a two-year project funded under the JISC E-learning programme: Technology-supported learning environments: user-owned technology demonstrators. The aim of the project was to produce, through a Web 2.0 methodology, a system where both existing content and new content could be used in a way that was not institutionally bound or controlled in a modular course-driven way. The project focused on both the social and learning aspects of the student experience and set out to: • Help provide a more personalised learning experience by developing a user-owned, web-based portal/mashup service that can be integrated with institutionally-owned educational and other systems; • Enhance the learners’ experience with the creation of spaces for independent and peer-assisted learning; • Support the management of artefacts created by learners through the use of portal/mashup technology, for example through the integration of existing photo management systems such as Flickr or other external-facing content holders such as YouTube. Using this technique the creation of student personal homepages could be developed where content can be created or gathered from external sources and integrated with internal sources. The aim was to help break down the current barriers of a VLE/LMS based system where content is contained entirely within the institution. Work is also being carried out to enable any content created within SPLASH (most notably the blog facility) to be either exportable or continue to be accessible to the student when they leave the university.

Overall approach The project employed a client manager to capture the key requirements of different student pilot groups with regard to a system that would meet both social networking and learning needs. The pilot groups where initially made up of Product Design students, Social Work students, who were on placements, and the Gender Society from the Student Union. Needs-analysis sessions with the groups helped provide the initial user requirements for the system. They represented a range of requirements and distinct needs around teaching and learning. The outcomes of initial consultations were fed into a BETA release of the SPLASH software. Ongoing consultation took place with student and staff contributors during the project leading to a final (live) release of the SPLASH software in February 2009. On release it was decided that, in order to get relevant, usable feedback on the potential of the system, there was a need to make it open to all students and staff. ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

Sections accessible to the public • Portal page with various widgets including; recent blogs posted, latest tweets from Twitter, local bus and train times, BBC news feeds, countdowns to important dates, Sussex on Flickr…. • Search facility • Help section with acceptable use policy Behind the log in • Personal dashboard – a multitude of dragable widgets holding content from internal and external sources such as YouTube or timetables that can be added and arranged on a page • Profile page • Blog • Course and forum listings – generated by the central database and the universities VLE system • Friends list – controlled by the user • Messaging service • Template and privacy settings – a number of templates where created to allow users to choose their preferred theme. Various privacy settings allow for users to limit access to pages and individual widgets Usability tests and interviews were used to explore how far the system design met the stated requirements. These where carried out very soon after the launch in February to enable feedback and reporting for the project close in March. As a note this has not given enough time to evaluate the use of the system fully, more evaluation work is planned for the future. As mentioned the project started out with three case studies; Product Design, Social Work and the Gender Society – of these, only one (Social Work) was able to be involved during the 08/09 academic year due to key staff in Product Design leaving and the Gender Society folding. We managed to find further subjects for case studies including History and the Sussex Institute but these were not as comprehensive as we would have wished due to the changeover of groups. Social work reported a small amount of their students using the system and finding it very useful. Cath Holmstrom the lecturer, however, stated more time was needed to introduce other students to the system and said: “I had maybe underestimated the time it needed for them to feel confident.” in writing blog posts and adding content to their profiles. ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009


She also concluded that students were a little bit wary as they were already using so many other systems. Outside of the pilot groups SPLASH has been used quite widely by groups and individuals including staff members. The majority of use has been on the social side and the publicly accessible blogs have gathered some momentum. These blogs cover a range of topics and have been very popular with staff and student members wishing to disseminate information about varied topics both about the university and outside. Other academics have taken up the use of SPLASH including History, where the SPLASH client manager Hesan Yousif worked with the lecturer Lucy Robinson incorporating SPLASH into the academic experience using student-centred and studentgenerated models. One of the models is aimed at course delivery where students use SPLASH and the VLE to create individual portfolios designed to be built alongside a set of weekly reflective tasks organised around readings, viewings, practical training and seminar discussions as well as to record individual contributions to the group task. This is linked to a group discussion and a collaborative area where the whole group work together. The other model is linked with issues of student feedback and support where the History student rep is exploring the use of SPLASH to improve communications between reps, students and the department. The Postgraduate Programmes Coordinator Gail Barrett of the Sussex Institute is using SPLASH as means of giving research students a tool to engage with one another. Students from all research programmes in the Sussex Institute were invited to attend a series of SPLASH workshops. This included all DPhil, MPhil and New Route DPhil students from Education, Social Work, Law and the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE), as well as Professional Doctorate students from Education and Social Work. The workshops were triggered by a request from research students who have found it difficult to find other students carrying out research in similar areas. As Gail says: “Due to the nature of the programmes, research students can feel very isolated and find it more difficult to meet other students and this is an issue we are keen to address.” Sussex Institute research students are predominantly using the site to set up their profiles detailing their research interests and to search for others, and are also keen to put more detailed information about their research on the site. As the Sussex Institute Postgraduate Co-ordinator, Gail has also set up a profile so that they can search for things they may need advice on such as intermissions, conference attendance etc. Gail has many ideas on the potential use of SPLASH and states: “We have so far had a very positive response to SPLASH from students and hope that this is something that they will continue to use to help build our research community. In conclusion I think SPLASH is exactly the kind of thing needed to bring research students together and help improve their experience at Sussex.”

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SPLASH has generated a lot of interest from academic and Professional Services staff including its use with Careers, International and Study Abroad offices, Student recruitment and the Student Union. It is clear that to develop the learning side much work is needed to engage with student and lecturing staff and explore the possibilities of its use. Further dissemination and evaluation will take place in the coming academic year.

Conclusions from general feedback and evaluation • There has been great enthusiasm amongst staff members as well as students, not only for blogging on a range of topics but making use of the portal aspect of the system and using the system tools to enhance teaching practice – the team had not expected such a strong take-up from staff. • The overriding feedback from all stakeholders is their desire to retain a sense of community within their academic or support network. • An initial assumption that the vast majority of students use social networking sites and are confident in their use has been challenged. • Staff and students want to communicate in private spaces where small ad-hoc groups can be formed to carry out targeted activities or discussions. • There is a need for easy, open and direct communication to students of an entire course year and a need to communicate beyond the traditional email form in order to grab the attention of students who may not regularly be on campus.

Open-source release of the SPLASH software The software was released under the new BSD License via Google Code at http://code. google.com/p/splash-project/ in March 2009. Regular monitoring and maintaining will now be required to ensure regular releases and responses to potential users who may wish to adopt the platform elsewhere. The system requirements for SPLASH implementation are: • PHP • MySQL • Zend Framework • A working knowledge of PHP and Javascript (preferably using the jQuery Framework) The current public aspects of SPLASH can viewed at the address below. http://splash.sussex.ac.uk

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Alternate Reality Gaming to Support Information Literacy Nicola Whitton, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University Rosie Jones, Library, Manchester Metropolitan University

Introduction Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are a relatively new form of interactive and immersive computer game, which have been rapidly growing in popularity in the sphere of entertainment. The collaborative, problem-based nature of this type of game makes them particularly applicable to learning, and their has been increasing interest in their potential use in Higher Education. This paper describes the Alternate Reality Games for Orientation, Socialisation and Induction (ARGOSI) project. ARGOSI was a JISC-funded collaborative project between Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and The University of Bolton (UoB), starting in April 2008 and finishing in March 2009. This paper will first provide a brief overview of the ARG format and its potential educational benefits, then describe the ARGOSI project, its aims and outcomes, in more detail, and provide examples of the ways in which the game was designed to meet the information literacy curriculum.

Background ARGs have been described as “an obsession-inspiring genre that blends real-life treasure hunting, interactive storytelling, video games and online community” (Borland, 2005). They are essentially a combination of an ongoing narrative, which unfolds as players solve a variety of challenges, and a collaborative community that works together to unravel the mysteries behind the game. Challenges can take place offline as well as online, they can be individual or collaborative, and they can take a variety of forms such as puzzles or riddles, treasure hunts or creation of artefacts such as videos or photographs. Rather than using high-end software, ARGs rely on the imaginative use of existing lowtech tools such as blogs, social networking sites, email and ‘the real world’ to create the gaming environment, so development of an ARG can be straightforward compared to the typical development cycles of computer games. This means that, as a medium, they are an accessible and feasible tool for educators in Higher Education. There are a number of characteristics of ARGs that have enthused educators as to their educational value. They present an authentic and purposeful context in which players undertake what is essentially problem-based learning based around a series of challenges that can be both collaborative and creative. ARGs also start to blur the line between player and game designer, because participants are involved throughout in shaping the story in a way that goes beyond simply ‘playing the game’.

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Moseley (2008) has presented seven pedagogic benefits of alternate reality games: • Problem solving at varying levels, which enables a student to pick his or her own starting level and work from there; • Progress and rewards, such as a leader board, prizes, or linked to assessment; • Narrative devices such as characters, plot or story; • Influence on outcomes, helping students to scaffold their paths as critical academic thinkers; • Regular delivery of new problems and events; • Potential for large, active community; • Based on simple, existing technologies and media.

The ARGOSI project The ARGOSI project aimed to provide an alternative to traditional induction, supporting students to get to know the city of Manchester and meet others, as well as learning some basics of the MMU information literacy curriculum. An issue highlighted at both MMU and UoB was that of student retention and its link to effective induction. Formal induction activities, such as library information search and evaluation skills, tend to be short, run in inflexible face-to-face slots, and, because they are run at the start of the year necessarily use tasks that are not contextualised for students, and for which there is no perceived need at that time. While ARGOSI aimed to provide an engaging and purposeful alternative to traditional methods of introducing students to university life, it was not intended that the ARG would take the place of the traditional student induction, but that it would provide either complementary additional information or even an alternative approach aimed at students whose needs are not necessarily being met by the induction model currently provided. A game, ViolaQuest, was designed, developed and tested, and ran over a ten-week period between September and December 2008. The central plot of the game centred on a first year student who had discovered a mysterious letter and piece of an old map. As the game continued, players discovered information about a secret society that was established during the industrial revolution, and a strange machine that had been hidden but could be found by collecting the remaining map pieces. As well as the main plot, a number of library challenges were also integrated into the game for players to solve.

Addressing information literacy The library challenges were specifically designed to map directly on to MMU information literacy learning outcomes so that the game provided an alternative, situated (and hopefully more fun) way of delivering this curriculum. However, in some cases developing an appropriate puzzle to meet a specific learning outcome was difficult and it became clear that not every type of learning outcome was suitable to be addressed in the game challenge format. It also became apparent that for some of the drier learning outcomes, ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009



even putting them into a game format was unlikely to make them particularly engaging, but it was hoped that by integrating them into the game, players would be provided with the extrinsic motivations of completing the set of puzzles and furthering the storyline. There follows two examples of how learning outcomes in the information curriculum were addressed using the challenge format.

Learning Outcome: Use online reading lists. Challenge: I think that someone has been passing messages in one of our library books! All I know is that the book appears on each of the following three reading lists. Can you identify the name of the author? • Introduction to circus skills • Training for balloon artists • Study skills online

Learning Outcome: Use Library Catalogue to find specific items and do keyword searches. Challenge:

naturally but in many cases of educational ARGs participation has been limited to a small – but dedicated – following. Possible reasons for this in the case of the ARGOSI project include the lack of a clearly communicated purpose for taking part, cryptic marketing materials, and an initial difficulty getting started (Whitton, 2009). It may be that ARGs will simply always be a niche learning tool, lacking universal appeal, but if they have the ability to engage students who are not otherwise engaged in learning then there are clear benefits to their use, but as a complement to traditional teaching, not an alternative.


Borland, J. 2005. Blurring the line between games and life. [online] ecoustics-cnet.com.com/Blurring+the+line +between+games+and+life/2100-1024_3-5590956.html Moseley, A. 2008. An alternative reality for Higher Education? Lessons to be learned from online reality games. Paper presented at ALT-C 2008, Leeds, UK. Whitton, N. 2009. ARGOSI Evaluation Report. [online] http://argosi.playthinklearn.net/evaluation.pdf

Links The ARGOSI project site argosi.playthinklearn.net

I’ve lost my glasses – can you help? I think they’re in the library safe but I don’t know the combination. I know that the combination is a nine digit number – and I found this pinned to the noticeboard. Clues to the safe combination: Find the classification numbers for the following books: 1. Title: The study skills handbook 2. Author: Harper Lee 3. Keyword: Barosaurus Add the three classification numbers together to get the code for the safe. These two examples show how the challenges can be used to provide some context and purpose to otherwise mundane tasks. Both challenges also point students in the direction of study skills materials that would help them regardless of subject of study.

Conclusions While ARGs clearly have educational benefits, there are also a number of drawbacks associated with them. The game needs a critical mass of players in order to make the collaborative game play possible and to allow the social network of players to develop ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

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Perspectives on spatial literacy in teaching and learning Claire H. Jarvis, Leicester Site manager & co-PI, SPLINT CETL Department of Geography, University of Leicester

Background The Spatial Literacy in Teaching and Learning CETL (SPLINT) is a consortium of three Universities, led by Leicester and including the University of Nottingham and University College London. An important focus for the CETL is the enhancement of spatial literacy in Higher Education.

What is spatial literacy?

2. Secondly, we are in the throes of a massive surge of interest in the use and application of geospatial technology amongst the general public, driven by new functionalities offered by mobile phones, in-car navigation systems and software such as Google Earth. This is positive in highlighting the opportunities offered by a spatial perspective. However, many of those now using geospatial technologies either lack, or have only rudimentary, spatial literacy skills and hence incorrect assumptions or conclusions may be drawn from messages being presented. Also, there is a need to reflect on whether increased reliance on technology in the place of traditional skills in (say) map reading may actually be reducing levels of spatial literacy. 3. Thirdly, from the geographer’s perspective, seeing things spatially has the potential to highlight connections within social or scientific phenomenon. A classic example of the potential spatial thinking offers science is seen in medical geography; the role that a dot map of cholera deaths constructed by Dr Snow in convincing the authorities of a link between Cholera and a water pump in the 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak is legendary.

In order to enhance spatial literacy we must understand the parameters of the concept, yet despite a considerable body of research there remains ambiguity regarding the term. This is partly the case since spatial literacy is embodied in many disciplines, for example psychology, geology and geography, and is more often discussed with reference to spatial abilities (e.g. Cornoldi & Vecchi 2003; Eliot & Smith, 1983) and spatial thinking (e.g. Kastens & Ishikawa, 2006; NRC, 2006). Indeed, ‘There is as yet no clear consensus about spatial thinking and, therefore, spatial literacy’ (NRC 2006, p26).

Seeing things spatially: Exemplar interventions

We consider that spatial literacy incorporates an individual’s innate spatial ability, their accumulated spatial knowledge and their choice of ways in which to solve spatial problems. Spatial thinking becomes the process that links aspects of spatial literacy together. We concur with the NRC’s (2006) position that spatial literacy is a state of expertise, a culmination of the learning and practising of spatial thinking. If well developed spatial literacy is the goal, then thinking spatially is the active process that fosters its development (NRC, 2006).

Case study: Geo-contextualised journal access tool

Why spatial literacy? Focusing particularly on the enhancement of spatial literacy in Higher Education as opposed to within the particular disciplines of Geography and GIScience, spatial literacy is a relevant and contemporary issue for three particular reasons. 1. Firstly, there is literature emerging that suggests that spatial thinking skills assist in the development of other core literacy. Relationships between high levels of spatial ability and performance levels in science and mathematics (Lord & Rupert, 1995) highlight the pertinence of spatial literacy as a cross-disciplinary issue. This and associated research has led to a call for spatial literacy to be considered and developed as a fundamental and underpinning component of the curriculum from early stages onwards (NRC 2006).

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SPLINT CETL has developed a variety of tools to assist learners see mathematical functions and patterns, collect materials and find patterns for themselves. In this paper, we exemplify this work by highlighting a tool currently under development that may be of particular interest to the library community.

Encouraging students to read widely and engage independently with literature is an essential component of any degree, yet as Stokes & Martin (2008) point out, often the amount of reading undertaken falls disappointingly short of a tutor’s expectations. While we might hope that students will be highly motivated to seek out readings, this is not necessarily the case (Stubley, 2002) and issues of learning style have certainly been implicated in this situation (Entwistle, 2001). A range of interventions are often used to encourage reading such as evaluation forms and learning logs, but these are largely textual. Perhaps particular to Geography, there is also a need to integrate fieldwork into more general pedagogic strategies (Scott et al. 2005), in this case to promote linkage between library learning spaces and those of the field. Relating these issues, we conceptualised the GeoJournal tool, the aim of which is to provide access to readings in a spatially referenced and visual context, such that students are further encouraged to engage with journal literature and are better enabled to make connections both between different papers and also aspects of the underlying geographical landscape when they do so. Drawing on increased interest in seeing photographs co-located in virtual geographical environments (e.g. Google Earth), an ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009


approach known generically as geotagging, GeoJournal is a novel new system constructed using Google Earth api software that involves combining background data with up to date readings, images and animations taken directly from the field. Figure 1 illustrates the GeoJournal interface for the Mojave Desert and Death Valley regions of California visited as an in-field teaching module on our 3rd year drylands geomorphology course.


of the software tool could also include further base mapping ‘layers’ for geology and/or elevation; our initial goal was to provide a simple, streamlined interface. While further evaluations of the tool are underway, we believe that the visio-spatial nature of this journal access tool will assist students with a wider range of learning styles to engage with the literature. While the example of the GeoJournal tool exemplified here is inherently geographical, the approach has generic application across a range of cognate disciplines such as geology and archaeology as well as geography. It lends itself in the first instance to regional study, not only in formal spatial disciplines but those such as local history and epidemiology where associations across space can be revealing. Equally, the concept could be used as a means of supporting student readings structured by thematic rather than actual spaces.


Figure 1: GeoJournal tool for Mojave Desert and Death Valley regions of California (background mapping via Google Earth, imagery copyright TerraMetrics 2009) GeoJournal has been designed for use both in field (on tablet PCs) and laboratory; for the module illustrated here, staff use GeoJournal to support student reflections on themes, processes and places on their return from the field site. As the figure shows, the implementation allows students to links to abstracts, full text PDF files held within the University library archives, images taken in the field and other multimedia including field sketches, audio clips and movies within a simple mapping interface. Students are able to check references at locations visited on tour and make visual connections between landforms and processes viewed in the field with those cited in the literature. In this particular instantiation of GeoJournal, multiple databases have been entered separately to allow particular geomorphological themes to be highlighted. Piedmont junctions, lakes and playas, alluvial fans and aeolian structures form in distinct geographical contexts relating to underlying geology and terrain as well as the more general climate characteristics of the region. By highlighting papers for selection by theme, students’ awareness of these contexts is spatially reinforced using visual means. Future versions ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

Cornoldi, C. and Vecchi, T. (2003) Visuo-Spatial Working Memory and Individual Differences. Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press. Eliot, J. and Smith, I.M. (1983) An International Directory of Spatial Tests. Windsor, Berkshire: NFER-Nelson. Entwistle, N. (2001) Styles of learning and approaches to studying in higher education, Learning Styles in Higher Education 30, 593–602. Golledge, R.G., Marsh, M., Battersby, S. (2008) Matching geospatial concepts with geographic educational needs, Geographical Research 46, 85-98. Golledge, R.G. and Stimson, R.J. (1997) Spatial Behavior: A Geographic Perspective. New York: Guildford Press. Kastens, K. and Ishikawa, T. (2006) Spatial thinking in the geosciences and cognitive sciences: a crossdisciplinary look at the intersection of the two fields. In Manduca, C.A., Mogk, D.W. and Stillings, N., editors, Earth & Mind: How Geologists Think & Learn About the Earth, 53-76. Lord, T.R., Rupert, J.L. (1995),Visual-spatial aptitude in elementary education majors in science and math tracks, Journal of Elementary Science Education 7, 47-58. NRC (2006) Learning to Think Spatially. Washington: The National Academes Press. Shepherd, I.D.H., Bleasdale, S. (1993) Student reading and course readers in Geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 17, 103-121. Stokes, P., Martin, L. (2008) Reading lists: a study of tutor and student perceptions, expectations and realities. Studies in Higher Education 33, 113-125. Stubley, P. (2002) Going beyond resource discovery. Update 1, 52–4.

Further information We would welcome contact from readers interested in the collaborative development of the ideas raised in this paper, particularly in regard to novel spatial means of accessing archive and journal collections. You can access the SPLINT web site at http://www.le.ac.uk/geography/splint/

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ShareGeo – Discovering and sharing geospatial data

What is ShareGeo?

Guy McGarva, EDINA, University of Edinburgh ShareGeo is a geospatial data sharing facility within Digimap, accessible to registered Digimap users. The data offered by ShareGeo can include both geospatial data derived from datasets already licensed through Digimap, as well open-access data collected or generated by individuals and submitted for others to re-use.

Introduction This article discusses a new facility being offered as part of the EDINA1 Digimap service. The facility is called ShareGeo and provides a mechanism for Digimap users to search and download user contributed geospatial datasets. It also provides a facility for users to upload their own geospatial content to share with others.

Background EDINA is a JISC National Datacentre based at the University of Edinburgh and provides on-line services to universities and colleges in the UK. A number of these services involve the provision of geospatial resources, either as maps or as data (or both), including: Digimap, UKBORDERS, agcensus and Go-Geo!. A table showing the existing core geospatial resources from EDINA is shown below: Collection or Service

Data Available

Digimap – Ordnance Survey Collection

A range of Ordnance Survey GB data products from largescale OS MasterMap® to small scale Strategi® datasets.

Marine Digimap

Hydrographic data for UK waters from SeaZone.

Geology Digimap

British Geological Survey datasets from 1:50,000 to 1:650,000.

Historic Digimap

Scanned Ordnance Survey maps from 1846 to 1996 from Landmark Information Group.


Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, UKBORDERS provides a wide range of boundary datasets e.g. postcode, census and administrative boundaries.


Agricultural census data based on grid squares.

Development of the ShareGeo facility was funded by JISC and is now being run within Digimap. ShareGeo is a follow-on from the GRADE2 (Geospatial Repository for Academic Deposit and Extraction) project which looked at the technical, cultural and legal issues around sharing geospatial data and included the development of a demonstrator repository that highlighted the desire from a wide range of users for a formal geospatial data sharing facility.

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There is no restriction on the geographical extent or coverage of a dataset; it can be for a very small area or be a global dataset and it can be for anywhere in the world.

What can I do with ShareGeo? 1) Find geospatial datasets – users can search for user-contributed, research generated and derived datasets using a variety of search mechanisms including keywords, titles, contributors, browsing or by using a map search interface. 2) Re-use geospatial datasets – users can download datasets for research and teaching in the original format that they were deposited in (including TIFF, Shapefile, KML and CSV). Downloaded data can be used in a variety of GIS applications and manipulated, visualised, combined and made into maps. 3) Share geospatial datasets – users can contribute their own datasets to ShareGeo. A simple to use step-by-step process guides users through the process of contributing geospatial datasets.

Figure 1: Screenshot of map search showing dataset outlines

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What datasets are in ShareGeo? The following table gives some example datasets that are currently available within ShareGeo and shows the range of dataset types and applications that can be contributed.

– – – –

To find datasets you may be interested in To save time by re-using existing datasets that others have created To create a record of your data Some technical details about ShareGeo

Dataset Type

Example datasets

Reference datasets

National grid squares at various resolutions, GB postcode area boundaries, national boundaries etc.

ShareGeo uses the DSpace open source repository software (currently version 1.5.1) with the Manakin user interface. The OpenLayers JavaScript mapping functionality has been incorporated into the search capabilities so that the user can search for datasets spatially using Google Maps as background mapping. The facility also uses the GDAL/OGR open source data translation software to validate and automatically extract metadata from contributed datasets.

Historical datasets

Digitised raster and vector datasets from historical sources, including London in the 19th century.

The complexities of licensed geospatial data

Table of example datasets currently in ShareGeo:

Freely available data converted into more easily accessible formats

DCW (Digital Chart of the World) data originally in .e00 format converted to Shapefiles for the UK.

Derived boundary datasets

Health region boundaries, government office boundaries, national park boundaries etc.

User collected data

GPS track logs collected using satellite navigation systems.

Geo processed aerial or satellite images

CORONA and Landsat satellite images.

Field survey data

Archaeological project datasets from the Isle of Mull.

Selections from existing OS, geology or marine datasets

Transportation network for Scotland selected from OS Strategi dataset.

Who can use ShareGeo? ShareGeo is accessible to all Digimap users who are registered for the Ordnance Survey, Marine or Geology Digimap Collections. Institutions must subscribe to one or more of these Collections in order to allow their members to register with these Collections. Users who have access only to Historic Digimap cannot use ShareGeo because the user information required for access to ShareGeo is not available. Use of ShareGeo is free and does not require any additional institutional subscription or registration – just an individual’s agreement to the terms of use of the facility.

Why should you use ShareGeo? – To increase the visibility of your research – To share datasets with colleagues and peers ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

One of the primary aims of ShareGeo is to provide users with confidence that licensing restrictions on data are respected and that they are ‘allowed’ to share data with other users through ShareGeo. Much of the data in use for teaching and research has been obtained through one or more of the Digimap Collections (Ordnance Survey, Marine, Geology or Historic). These data have strict licensing requirements associated with them. Of particular concern is data that has been derived from (or based on) licensed data and therefore carries the same (or similar) restrictions as the original data. ShareGeo respects these licensing restrictions as long as the original contributor of the data accurately specifies the source of the data. Contributors are also able to specify their own licence to be associated with a dataset, for instance a Creative Commons licence for data they have collected themselves and that they wish to share with others in an open way.

What metadata is available? Qualified Dublin Core metadata is used to describe items, with many of the fields automatically populated when a user contributes a dataset. The spatial extents of a contributed dataset are automatically extracted from the contributed dataset and added to the ‘spatial coverage’ metadata field using the DCMI Box Encoding scheme as well as being stored in a separate database table that enables subsequent searching and querying. Specific options are provided for users to select when choosing a licence to be associated with a dataset which is then stored as part of the metadata.

What if I can’t find a dataset I’m looking for? If there is a dataset that you are looking for but can’t find it in ShareGeo and it’s not in an existing Digimap Collection, you may be able to find reference to it by using the Go-Geo!3 geospatial data portal. This portal cross-searches a number of data holdings and will find and display relevant metadata records, giving details on how to access the data.

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Issues As with many repositories, it is proving harder than at first anticipated to encourage users to contribute datasets to ShareGeo. This could be for a number of reasons such as the perception of licensing issues in sharing (particularly Ordnance Survey data), concern over the quality and provenance of data that might be deposited, the lack of perceived benefit to sharing or a lack of awareness of the availability of a place to put data. These are issues and challenges that are being addressed with continuing technical improvements and promotion of the facility.

How to access ShareGeo ShareGeo can be accessed by logging in to Digimap4 and following the link on the Collections page to ShareGeo in the “Find and Share� section. More information about ShareGeo can be found at: http://edina.ac.uk/projects/sharegeo/ index.shtml

1. 2. 3. 4.

http://edina.ac.uk/ http://edina.ac.uk/projects/grade/ http://www.gogeo.ac.uk/ http://edina.ac.uk/digimap/

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JISC Digital Media Supporting the sector’s digital media needs Zak Mensah JISC Digital Media e-Learning Officer zak.mensah@bristol.ac.uk http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk

Background JISC Digital Media (formerly known as TASI) is an advisory service offering advice, resources and support in all aspects of digital media. We are dedicated to the FE and HE sectors where our remit is to support the creation and use of digital media within the community. The JISC Digital Media team specialise in still images, moving images, audio, and online learning. Our support encompasses every stage of the digital lifecycle, and ranges from comprehensive and authoritative response to small enquires to assistance with large digitalisation projects, including: • • • • • •

Managing a project Digitising analogue media Creating new digital media Managing your digital resources Finding and using digital media Increased demand for digital media use

There is a steady increase year on year of the use of digital media in libraries by staff and learners. Some of this is to support traditional library activity but much has to do with new forms of digital teaching and learning. In the last few years the use of web services has grown and many would like to experiment and gain benefit from this increase. This has led to a rise in the use of audio, video and still image services by both institutions and their users. Many of us now understand that a core value of digital media content is that it is reusable. From this, pushing content to learners in a wide range of formats is achievable and we can assist with libraries’ desires and need to innovate in this area. Below we outline some of the support we offer to facilitate skills development in the area of digital media.

Support Advice documents We have over 100 advice documents on our website, covering digital media and its use in teaching and learning. We are constantly adding advice documents in response to the community’s needs.

Helpdesk We have had over two thousand helpdesk enquires since becoming a service. Whether you have a seemingly small query about using digital media, or a long-term project you can contact our free helpdesk service.

Training We run regular hands-on workshops covering each of the three media. Topics include Metadata, audio production, using digital media in a VLE and Digitising Analogue Video Recordings. For a full list please see our website.

Information literacy Now that many institutions have and will continue to store masses of digital media it is important to consider resource finding and critical evaluation. We are aware that students’ ability to find relevant resources is a vital consideration in database design. We advise on creation, finding, and management of your media.

Still images Finding and using free images Internet for Image Searching http://www.vts.intute.ac.uk/tutorial/imagesearching/ is a free-to-use online tutorial to assist people in locating copyright cleared images which are available free; facilitating quick, hassle-free access to a vast range of online photographs and other visual resources. The tutorial is very easy to follow and should only take about 30 minutes to complete. There is a ‘links basket’ facility so that you can collect the links you like as you go through. These can then be e-mailed to you or printed off for future reference. The tutorial has received a lot of praise since its launch in October 2008. Sol Picciotto, Professor of Law at Lancaster University gave the tutorial the following review: “Congratulations on this tutorial. It’s really excellent, very well set out, and the information on copyright is presented clearly and accurately. It really fills a gap, and does so extremely well.”

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CLA The Copyright Licensing Agency (http://www.cla.co.uk/) has a range of licences that permit the photocopying, scanning and emailing of articles from publications such as journals, books, law reports, press cuttings, electronic and online publications without having to seek permission from the copyright owner each time. There are two specific licences that relate to education; one for Higher Education and one for Further Education and additional licences catering for libraries, local authorities and so on. The specific licence applicable to your organisation will determine what you are permitted to do in terms of copying, distributing and sharing materials. Some licences will allow you to disembed images from text as well as creating paper copies from online journals. To check which licence will apply to your organisation visit the ‘Find the right licence’ page at: http://www.cla.co.uk/licenceinformation_typesoflicenceavailable.php

Moving images One of the most common requests received at the helpdesk concerns the digitisation of videotapes. Specifically, people want to know if they can take VHS tapes of copyright material they have purchased and transfer them to DVD or other digital media. Unfortunately the answer is no. The right to show material (which all educational institutions in the UK have, provided it is for educational purposes) is distinct from the right to copy material. If you need a digital copy of your copyright material you will have to buy it. The important exception to this concerns material which was recorded from a broadcast. The ERA and ERA+ licences (see www.era.org.uk) not only permit the recording of broadcast material, they also permit the copying of it, so any material recorded in this way can be digitised legally. Please Note: The information contained in this section does not constitute legal advice. It contains interpretations of Copyright Law by JISC Digital Media and the author(s). No responsibility will be taken for the interpretation of this information by a third party. For specific advice on copyright, it is recommended that you consult a specialist copyright lawyer.

Sound resources


We receive many enquiries from libraries and archives requiring support in creation, quality control and cataloguing of oral history collections, and JISC Digital Media’s audio workshops often include archivists wishing to improve interview and recording skills for this purpose.

Digitisation of existing sound resources Many institutions already have collections of audio objects on a variety of legacy media – vinyl records, reel-to-reel tape, cassette tape etc – and we advise on recommended practice and standards for the digitisation and delivery of these resources. We also help assess the vulnerability and long-term storage needs of original analogue artefacts once the digitisation process is complete.

Documentation of music and performance Much modern multimedia art and performance includes audio elements, whose capture forms an integral part of the accurate documentation of these often location-specific events. Additionally, the location recording of ambient audio environments can offer a valuable and evocative record of particular sound worlds. Our audio team have particular interest and experience in the growing discipline of immersive surround and stereo recording, including the use of binaural, A-format surround, and various stereo techniques.

Cataloguing metadata The various digital audio formats available to the archivist (wav, bwav, mp3, ogg etc) have different capabilities for packaging metadata, and there are additional options for creating a comprehensive metadata record based on file cataloguing systems. We can help libraries in the design of a metadata schema to capture any or all information about the origin, content and lifecycle of their digital audio collections.

Contacting us Whether you are looking for advice, support or speakers for events we are always happy to be contacted. Our details are available at our website www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk. We are also on twitter at www.twitter.com/jiscdigital

Oral history Recordings of conversations and interviews – broadly termed ‘Oral History’ can capture subtle nuances of a subject’s voice, vernacular and emotional state which a text document will not convey. Of particular interest to scholars of language, social sciences and world history, oral history can additionally be offered in several accessible formats which can be archived and delivered with a variety of online tools to a wide audience.

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ESDS and librarians Lorna Balkan, Outreach and Promotion Officer, Economic and Social Data Service The Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) is a national data service providing access to, and support for, a wide range of economic and social data. The service is aimed at researchers in further and higher education, and beyond, including the public and voluntary sectors. While providing a help desk and organising workshops and conferences for researchers on a regular basis, ESDS relies on its network of social science data resources (SSDR) site representatives at key institutions to promote its services and activities and to answer front line enquiries within the library about the service. In the past site representatives were mostly academics in social science departments, but increasingly it is now librarians who are taking on this role. With this in mind, on 13 February 2009 the ESDS organised an event at the Royal Statistical Society entitled ‘ESDS – what’s in it for Librarians?’ aimed specifically at librarians.


ESDS will take these suggestions forward in its next planning phase. It is also investigating ways in which to further strengthen its links with librarians, either through its network of SSDR representatives, or less formally. SSDR representatives act as first port-of-call for information on the ESDS at their institution. ESDS provides a dedicated mailing list and web pages (www.esds.ac.uk/support/sr.asp) for representatives, where they are first to be informed of new developments at the ESDS and Census.ac.uk, and have free privileged access to ESDS and Census.ac.uk workshops. In return they are invited to disseminate literature about the services at their institution, test new versions of ESDS and Census. ac.uk systems, and help initiate and host census and social science workshops. To apply to become an SSDR site representative at any time – just send an email request to publicity@esds.ac.uk. This email address can also be used for any other query or suggestions about how ESDS can support librarians.

Despite the bad weather, there was an impressive turn out, with librarians coming from all round the country. While most attendees were from academic libraries, there were representatives from government departments and the health sector. The day took the form of presentations in the morning, followed by a feedback session in the afternoon. There was thus a two-way exchange of information – in the morning, delegates had the chance to find out about the ESDS, and in the afternoon advise how the ESDS can help librarians in their role of social science research facilitators. In addition to presentations on the ESDS, keynote speaker Jude England, Head of Social Science Collections and Research at the British Library, spoke of how the role of the librarian is evolving in light of new researcher needs and expectations. She also discussed some of the strategic links and collaborations the British Library is forging with the research community as well as with other data services and providers, including the ESDS. Stuart Macdonald went on to describe his work at EDINA and Edinburgh University Data Library as a data librarian. He observed that there are currently only four dedicated social science data librarians in UK Universities, and encouraged other librarians with knowledge of data to join the network (DISC-UK). Slides of the presentations are available at: www.esds.ac.uk/news/eventdetail.asp?id=2125 The feedback session centred round three main questions: (1) the most popular questions that librarians are asked that are relevant to the ESDS; (2) the most requested types of data at the librarians’ institutions; and (3) three specific things librarians would like from the ESDS to support users’ knowledge and use of the ESDS. Questions (1) and (2) revealed a wide range of data in terms of type of data – such as international comparative data, government statistics and qualitative data – and subject/topic. Question (1) identified problems associated with finding data at ESDS – locating related resources; accessing data and the registration process; and using and citing data properly. The three wishes in response to question (3) targeted some of these problems, but also highlighted areas where ESDS is excelling, namely its popular thematic guides, and its outreach and workshops. More of each were requested, including workshops geared not just at researchers but at librarians, as research facilitators. ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009


LexDis – Disabled Learners’ Experiences of e-learning E.A Draffan1, Mike Wald1, Jane Seale2, 1 School of Electronics and Computer Science, 2School of Education, University of Southampton.

Introduction In 2007 the Joint Informations System Committee (JISC) introduced the second phase of the ‘Learner Experiences of e-Learning’ research projects. These projects were designed to “review and investigate how learners experience and participate in learning in technology-rich environments” (JISC, 2007) as well as (amongst several other aims) make recommendations for learning resource developers and those supporting students and promoting learner involvement. The LexDis project was created with the distinctive aim of exploring issues and strategies developed by disabled students using the most participatory methods possible in an eighteen month timescale. It turned out that time was of the essence not only for the team, but it was also seen as one of the main factors affecting the decisions related to the use of technology by the participating students. There were several critical choices that students made when working with technology and use of library based resources, along with other aspects of their study time at the university.


These strategies all took longer to achieve than would have been necessary for most students, so a series of guides were developed to show staff how to make accessible online documentation. These guides were linked to the JISC TechDis Accessibility Essentials Series. (JISC TechDis, 2007)

Collaborating Online As mentioned in the LexDis project report, students showed how ‘agile’ they were in their use of technologies (Seale et al, 2008) by moving with ease between many different types of online communication services. From the usual e-mail and discussion forums to the social networking services and real time interactions offered by chat or Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VOIP). Several students mentioned how hard they found the layout, navigation and thread system offered by Blackboard as compared to their Facebook messaging system. They also preferred MSN (Microsoft Network – Messenger) and Skype VOIP) for its instant nature where one could not only see that someone was online but also when they were typing a message. The sending of files and images is also easy. Where collaboration on projects was required by more than a couple of students, they sometimes used Google docs or Microsoft Groove for project organisation and tracking and even MSN whiteboard for commenting.

Students rarely discussed their disabilities in a medical sense, but would describe the difficulties they encountered as being linked to specific tasks and learning environments. Taking this lead from the students, with the help of some of the participants, an online database was developed to share the strategies used by the students (www.lexdis.org). The issues discussed that related to research and library use included using specific types of documents such as Adobe portable document formats (pdfs), collaborating online, references or bibliographies, using Web 2.0 type technologies such as wikis, blogs and podcasts. The actual virtual learning environment such as Blackboard also caused issues although students were all very grateful when accessible teaching and learning resources were put online. “I really like Blackboard, but I think that there is an awful lot on there, and it could be made a lot easier to use. The navigation is difficult.” (LexDis student)


Document Strategies

These technologies have been described (with qualifications) as Web 2.0 by Tim O’Reilly (2006). Most people use this name to include those services that allow non- technical individuals to interact with pages written in Hypertext Mark up Language (HTML) and develop their own content for the web. The students participating on the LexDis project seemed to be wary about interacting with wikis unless it was part of their course, but were happier to use blogs and some kept these for reflecting on their work. Issues of accessibility were linked to the use of the rich text editors that take the content to be uploaded to the website. Some of the editors’ menus cannot be reached by just using a keyboard or with a screen reader. Sometimes these barriers are created by the browser and at other times it is the design of the editor. This can mean that those students who have a visual impairment or are blind have difficulties and those with dexterity or

Personalisation of the computer with font and colour changes were used to some extent by all the students, in particular using sans serif fonts such as Verdana and several students used highlighting to mark keywords or note particular parts of documents. Others used magnification and different coloured backgrounds to improve readability. This was only possible where documents were accessible and some students described the problems they had with encrypted pdf files having to scan them in or re-typing sections into Word documents. Others discovered that they could be read with certain assistive technologies, such as TextHelp Read and Write or ClaroRead and some used the HTML versions or text options where possible so that annotations could be added. ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

Despite many libraries offering very clear guidance about citations and references, the practicalities still caused problems for some students. They offered many alternatives to the use of EndNote from a colour coded crib sheet for Harvard style to the use of a table to sort the references in Microsoft Word. Word 2007 has its own referencing system and this was used with added templates such as IEEE by a few, whilst others tried the Firefox download Zotero or CiteULIke online. All admitted that referencing took time and longed for an easier solution!

Interactive online applications

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009


repetitive strain injuries may also have problems, as mouse access may be the only way to use the menus. Podcasts and online videos are often put up without access to transcriptions or captions or subtitles which are immensely helpful to many students, whether they are deaf, have English as an additional language or find text summaries helpful for complex subjects. Most online sites such as YouTube now allow for the addition of captions or text based descriptions. Once again navigating to and within the player, when only using a keyboard, can be difficult in some browsers. On the whole Internet Explorer appeared to offer most access at the time of writing and some sites have options for an accessible player such as ‘The Easy YouTube Player’ (Heilmann, C. 2008) or a download option for the files. If an audio or video file can be downloaded then the student has the choice of using their preferred player and Nomensa (2009) offer an accessible media player for websites.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Many students had high expectations that they would be able to work online at any time. They wanted to be able to download teaching and learning materials for all their courses from any part of the university, as well as from their homes and halls of residence. It was often the latter that caused problems, in particular in older halls of residence where there were not internet connections. This was when the use of the forums caused problems, as students had to go on campus to check for messages or complete projects, not always easy when combined with work placements or when mobility was an issue. Personalisation of Blackboard appeared to be difficult for some students – although colour backgrounds could be changed, layout remained the most negative aspect of the learning environment. Only certain parts of the content could be hidden to solve the problem of clutter and the navigation appeared to depend on the templates offered by the computer services department, the tutor or developer. Some members of staff avoided use of the VLE and preferred to set up their own websites. Some students preferred to work through other portals such as ‘Web of Knowledge’ or subject specific databases rather than use the links provided by tutors within the VLE.


layout could have on their ability to work online. As one student admitted, “sometimes I find the layout on wikis and blogs is very cluttered and if there is too much colour it does not make for easy reading.” Another said “For my French course we have to do on-line activities using a bit of software called ‘Hot Potatoes’ which is useless, because it’s not very friendly towards screen readers.” “These findings regarding digital agility are significant in terms of encouraging us not to view disabled students as helpless but rather in terms of wanting to be independent and able to make the most of accessible resources.” (Seale et al, 2008)

References Heilmann, C. (2008). The Easy YouTube Player Available from: http://icant.co.uk/easy-youtube/ – Accessed 25/05/09 JISC TechDis, (2007). Accessibility Essentials Series Available from: http://www.techdis.ac.uk/index.php?p=3_20 – Accessed 25/05/09 Joint Informations System Committee, (2007). Learner Experiences of e-Learning Available from: http://www.jisc. ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearningpedagogy/learnerexperience.aspx – Accessed 25/05/09 Nomensa (2009) Accessible media player Available from: http://player.nomensa.com/ – Accessed 25/05/09 O’Reilly, T. (2006) “Web 2.0 Compact Definition: Trying Again” website http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2006/12/ web-20-compact.html – Accessed 25/05/09 Seale, J. Draffan, E.A. & Wald, M. (2008) Exploring disabled learners’ experiences of e-learning: LEXDIS Project Report. Southampton, UK, University of Southampton, 161pp. http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/64850/ – Accessed 25/05/09 Seale, J. Wald, M. & Draffan, E.A. (2008). Reflections on the value of participatory research methods in developing accessible design in higher education Available from: http://www.addw08.org/docs/presentations/SealeWaldDraffan_ ReflectionsOn.ppt – Accessed 25/05/09

Resources Blackboard http://www.blackboard.com/ TextHelp Read and Write http://www.texthelp.com/ ClaroRead http://www.clarosoftware.com/ Facebook http://www.facebook.com/


MSN Live Messenger http://download.live.com/?sku=messenger Skype http://www.skype.com

The LexDis participants showed an appreciation for when and how to use the technologies with which they came into contact and those they learnt about from peers and assistive technology specialists. However, they were also wary of taking on more than they felt they could manage due to time constraints, skill requirements, costs and issues of availability. They shared many strategies for the database appreciating how much they had developed in their acquisition of elearning skills during their time at university. These strategies have illustrated how agile the student can be in their use of technology but when describing these work-arounds or adaptations, they often bemoaned the fact that some members of staff still did not realise the impact that inaccessible documentation and

Google docs http://docs.google.com/ Microsoft Groove http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/groove/FX100487641033.aspx EndNote http://www.endnote.com/ Zotero http://www.zotero.org/ CiteULike http://www.citeulike.org/ YouTube http://www.youtube.com/ Web of Knowledge http://wok.mimas.ac.uk/ Hot Potatoes http://hotpot.uvic.ca/

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

ALISS Quarterly 4 (4) July 2009

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