Mobile Library Week

Sussex Mobile Facebook page

Sussex Mobile Facebook page

With the current interest in mobile learning, the ability to access Library content through a smartphone or portable device is an essential part of the equation.  Both the Library Catalogue and the wider Library Search are optimised with mobile friendly versions, designed to be easy to use on the smaller screen without any loss of functionality.  So finding that vital journal article or reading a chapter from an e-book anytime, anywhere, is now a reality.  Additionally, some publishers are now providing their own apps for use with iPhones or Android devices for easier searching of subscribed journal content.

To promote awareness of how Library content can be accessed, from discovery to delivery, on mobile devices, the Library is hosting lunch-time drop-in sessions in the Open Learning Space all next week – Monday 31st March to Friday 4th April, 12:00 to 14:00 – inviting students to bring along their own mobile devices and discover how to get the most out of the Library online resources.

Running alongside this, students can take part in a daily challenge on the Mobile Device Facebook page, with a chance to win a £10 book voucher (one each day of the campaign).  Hopefully, this will generate feedback  and discussion from students on their experience of using mobile devices to access Library content.

Mobile devices showing Library content

Mobile devices showing Library content

Further support and guidance on using mobile devices to access Library content will be available from the new LibGuide.

For further details please contact:

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Focus, Investigate, Share: reflections on Open Education Week

Dawn Howard (BMEc)

Dawn Howard (BMEc)

RUSTLE is pleased to welcome Dawn Howard (BMEc) as a guest blogger, reporting on one of the events organised by the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team for Open Education Week at Sussex.

“If you don’t send any balloons out there you are not in the race” this was a tweet which really got me thinking – it was sent by a participant on one of the recent events hosted by the University of Sussex to mark Open Education Week .  I went along to the workshop not knowing much about open education other than thinking it had something to do with sharing resources online.

The workshop sponsored by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) was titled “Opening minds, sharing resources, and developing collective practice” and attracted over 30 presenters and delegates from within the university, across the region and as far away as Edinburgh. Its purpose was to “raise awareness of the opportunities, advantages and challenges surrounding open education and to explore strategies to increase engagement in the use/development of open educational resources”.

participants at the event

Delegates listen to one of the presentations.

All good stuff – but was does open education actually mean?  – well  we didn’t get round to agreeing a shared understanding of the term however that didn’t seem to matter as we discussed all manner of related subjects – from ideas around how to open up access to our various VLE’s  without breaching licenses to how open and collaborative we can truly be as “siloed academics” to sharing the challenges and opportunities new technologies bring us all on a daily basis. You can get a taste of the day from this Storify of the tweets sent by participants during the day (kindly created by Katie Piatt from the University of Brighton).

Chrissi Nerantzi, an enthusiastic open education practitioner from Manchester Metropolitan University spoke passionately and eloquently about “chaos, the big wave, confusion and overcoming loneliness in Openland”  while sharing with us her model for developing resources : Focus, Investigate, Share – called *FISh*!

By the end of the day I was a convert to open education and I have already shared my learning from the event with colleagues in BMEc as well as starting to think about how I can do stuff differently with my students next year.

Resources and links:

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Open Education Week at Sussex

A neon OPEN sign glowing red in the window of a restaurantThe third annual Open Education Week will be taking place worldwide from 10th to 15th March. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about open education by participating in events or using free and open resources.

Open Education Week Events at Sussex

The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team and the Learning and Teaching Support team in the library have got together with the Higher Education Academy (HEA) to organise a series of events for Sussex students, staff and the wider HE community during this annual international celebration of open education.

There will be something happening every day during week 8 of term, with some events aimed at students, some designed for staff and others open to everyone. You can see the full programme on the Open Education Week page where there are also links to online booking of sessions.  [UPDATE 27/3/14: resources from the OEW events are available on the TEL website.]

Students can learn to use Prezi and/or get to grips with referencing resources from the internet; colleagues from across the region are invited to join Sussex staff for a Higher Education Academy sponsored one-day event with a lively mix of internal and external speakers; students and staff will come together for a workshop on open sharing and curating, and the week will wrap up with an open webinar featuring two online guest speakers.

OEW2014 badge.png     Open badges

Participants in Open Education week at Sussex will be able to earn an open badge for attending one or more of the events. If you are new to collecting open badges you can read more about their background in ‘So what are open badges?’ from Jisc  and the Mozilla Open Badges website will explain how you might want to display your badge online.

News, events and resources

There are many more global events being collected and advertised on the Open Education Week website.

During Open Education Week (OEW) you can keep track of news and resources on Twitter by following @SussexTEL and the hashtags #openeducationwk and #SussexOEW. On Googleplus the TEL@Sussex University page will be posting about open education topics.

You can find out more about Open Education and Open Education Resources (OERs) from the HEA’s Introduction to Open Education Resources and Open Education or browse other web links on open education and OERs in the TEL team’s bookmark collection.

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Mobile Learning – TEL gets out and about

 mobile devicesThe University and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA) recently organised a showcase of best practice in the use of mobile technology to enhance teaching, learning and assessment. Anne Hole from the Technology Enhanced Learning office attended the event and reports here on what she found most interesting.

Case studies are a great way of sharing practice between institutions and across disciplines and the UCISA guide: Mobile learning:How mobile technologies can enhance the learning experience  is a useful resource, but the big advantage of having the case studies presented live was, as John Traxler argued in his opening address, that there was an opportunity for delegates to interrogate and discuss them.

Does mobile learning have to mean giving students iPads?

Although the majority of the case studies talked about using iPads and most of the audience apart from me were using iPads, it became clear as the examples were discussed that the activities described could be carried out with a variety of different devices and most of the apps involved were available across operating systems.

As more students are arriving at university with their own mobile devices (see recent Sussex student ITS survey) attention is turning to the so-called BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach to learning that encourages students and staff to use their own smartphones, tablets etc.

Modelling mobile learning

Chrissi Nerantzi’s  presentation emphasized the power of a tutor offering a model of mobile learning practice. The case study (co-authored by Juliette Wilson, Nadine Munro, Gemma Lace-Costigan and Neil Currie, University of Salford) demonstrates how, without providing costly devices, students might be encouraged to engage with a range of digital tools that can help them build peer learning networks. The context for this case was a postgraduate professional development course and more scaffolding may be necessary in other situations but as developing digital literacies becomes increasingly important this approach may be one that could be adapted and adopted more widely where lecturers are already comfortable with using mobile devices and digital tools themselves.

Learning across contexts

One of the most exciting case studies was from the University of Northampton (authors: Adel Gordon, Janet Jackson and Julie Usher) where mobile devices were used to allow students to connect up their learning across a range of learning contexts within and outside the university. Thinking about the various learning spaces that students inhabit – lecture theatre, seminar room, personal learning space, library, online/VLE and discipline-specific spaces such as laboratory, the field, drama studio etc. we can see that mobile devices offer the possibility for the students to really make their learning mobile and context-specific.

The examples presented were of Environmental Ecology and Management students using mobile devices to collect and upload data on field trips and Art and Design students using devices to record the progress of their work in the studio. For the future the team behind the project will be using the FieldTripGB app  developed by Edina at the University of Edinburgh which several of the tweeters at the event were keen to explore themselves.

Mobile apps for feedback

Mobile apps can be particularly useful when it comes to students providing peer feedback – especially on physical projects such as posters or performances of some sort. One of the case studies (by Anita Backhouse, Ian Wilson and Daniel Mackley, York St John University) looked specifically at how a note-making and annotating app used with Socrative had enhanced formative assessment on a teacher education module, but the same principles could be applied in other peer feedback contexts.

Once students got used to taking photos of each other’s work and annotating it with feedback they began giving more detailed notes than they had before. Also, whereas feedback had originally been handwritten and students had recognised who was critiquing their work the mobile apps were providing anonymity. Students really engaged with the peer feedback process, even asking to move from a system that just allowed them to give feedback using a Likert scale against statements to one, using Socrative, where they could provide more detailed justification for their judgments.

Trying apps

One of the nice things about being in the room to hear the case studies presented was the opportunity to try out some mobile apps for ourselves. Presenters used nearpod and Socrative on the day in order to get the audience to participate in their sessions and many delegates went away thinking about ways that they might use one or the other in their teaching.

Thanks to UCISA and Julie Voce of Imperial College for organising such a successful day of sharing and discussion.

The full guide which is available online includes three more case studies involving the use of iPads in HE focusing on: collaborative learning; large numbers of medical students working out in hospitals; and undergraduate laboratory teaching. So if the examples I have picked out here don’t appeal to you there may be something there to inspire you.

The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Team are planning a workshop to explore a range of mobile apps and the ways that they might be used in teaching but would also like to hear what members of staff are using and any ideas that you have. You can comment below or contact Anne on or via Twitter @AnneHole or the TEL team @SussexTEL

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Putting reading at the heart of Study Direct

Stack of Library BooksStudents look to Study Direct (SyD) for the resources they need for their learning on a week-by-week basis so changes were made to Study Direct to enable weekly sections of online (Aspire) reading lists to be integrated into SyD. RUSTLE has been asking some academics who have been using the new functionality to share their experiences.

Easy integration of online reading lists in Study Direct

Joe Tidd and Bex Hewett (Business and Management) both commented on how easy the reading list / Study Direct integration is to use. You can see the few steps involved in adding part of a reading list to a SyD site in this short video by Paolo Oprandi (ITS). Bex found it ‘very straightforward’ as she had structured her reading list around core texts and weeks so it related easily to her SyD site which is also arranged around weeks. As Joe observed, it is ‘very easy to embed sections of Aspire reading lists in Study Direct’.

Improving student engagement with reading

Keith Wilson (Philosophy) and Hilary Kalmbach (History) see the section-by-section integration as a way of increasing students’ engagement with the reading list and thereby the reading.

Last year most of Keith’s students ‘were using Study Direct but not looking at the Aspire reading list’. That was partly because the link to the whole reading list at the bottom of the site is not very obvious but this year Keith ‘structured the reading list by week of the course [and] within that indicated which are essential, recommended and optional readings’.

Keeping all the resources for a given topic in one place makes good sense and Hilary thinks that ‘students are more likely to be interacting with Aspire reading lists now that there is the option to insert them into Study Direct by week’.

Feedback from students

Rebecca Webb (Education) received very positive feedback from students about how much easier the new system is to use, but the best feedback she has received is that students have been doing the reading. As well as making it more straightforward to navigate what was a priority students reported that ‘they found it easier to communicate with the library about readings because they were all talking from the same page’.

Joe has also had good feedback from students about the easy access to reading via Study Direct which he attributes in part to the fact that he teaches at masters level where students read more journal articles which in the past may have been harder to find.

Bex has had a few questions from students about where to find readings and Hilary has found that in order to get the most from integrating reading lists into Study Direct she has had to show her second and third year students ‘how to find it and how to use it’. She has provided extra instruction in response to student questions and feels that ‘it is important to show students how to use it and show them more than once’.

The online reading list system

As well as the advantages of the new integration with Study Direct, colleagues were keen to talk about the library’s online reading list system more generally and how it has changed the ways that they work with their lists.

Tutors like using the system because it allows the library to identify the materials that are needed, check that they have enough copies, purchase extras where appropriate and/or make digital copies available (this web page explains how the library works with reading lists).

Keith points out that ‘Aspire also has lots of features that are useful for students, such as marking which texts they have read and adding their own comments’, so he also encourages them to engage with the full reading list by including a link in a block at the side of his site. He hopes that one day the full functionality of the reading lists will be available via the quick links from within Study Direct.

Some colleagues are a little apprehensive that providing clickable links to readings is making it too easy for students and risks failing to develop their research and library skills. On the other hand, removing obstacles to finding readings for increasingly time-poor students has the potential to increase the amount of reading that they can do. This seems to be an area of concern and the Study Direct team are keen to work with academics to try to develop approaches to providing resources that continue to stretch and empower students. If you would like to be involved then Carol Shergold (Head of Learning Systems) would be happy to hear from you.

The online reading list system isn’t just about reading though, Rebecca is impressed by the ‘absolutely wonderful’ breadth of materials that can be included in a reading list, going far beyond books and journals held by the library to include items such as videos, online articles, websites, images etc.

The resources are all added using a bookmarking tool, which Bex says she found ‘very intuitive’ because she uses Zotero referencing software for her own research and ‘it’s the same principle – I just have to remember to click a different button’.

Initially, setting up a new reading list takes a bit of time, but Rebecca says that ‘in the long run it saves such a lot of time’ and Keith sees it as a one-off time investment that the students benefit from ‘and hopefully will encourage them to do more reading as a result’.

Starting to use the online reading list system

If you haven’t used the online reading list system before there is plenty of support available to get you started. Rebecca described the one-to-one support she received as ‘absolutely fantastic’. A member of the Library Learning & Teaching Support team met her in her office and took her through the process step-by-step which she says gave her confidence. In addition to one-to-one sessions, the team can arrange training sessions for small or large groups, as well as being available for advice and support via phone and email and there are How-To sheets and YouTube videos (for details see the Reading Lists Support web page).

In the Spring term the Teaching & Learning Support team will be running a Getting started with your Online Reading Lists workshop for colleagues new to the system. There are three dates to choose from:

  • Wednesday 5th February, 14.00-15.00
  • Wednesday 26th February, 13.00-14.00
  • Wednesday 19th March, 13.00-14.00

The workshop consists of an introduction to the University’s Online Reading Lists system, demonstrating how to get started and add items into the system. This will be followed by a practical session where you will be able to have a go at managing an online list. Staff can book a place on one of the workshops via Sussex Direct.

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Happy New Year! Looking back and moving forward.

fireworksNew Year is traditionally a time for looking back and moving forward. For RUSTLE this is taking the form of a look back at the most popular post of 2013, which was on the use of social media for professional development.

The post has been updated here for the New Year, with resolutions in mind, and an invitation added for staff to join the Introduction to social media for learning and teaching workshop on 16th January (Sussex University staff only).

Social media are increasingly being used by professionals in all fields to personalise their professional development. In the field of education, teachers are using Twitter and blogs to connect with each other, share ideas, good practice and develop their teaching in time-efficient ways. Twitter hashtags are used to run themed discussions and synchronous chats.

Researchers are using blogs and Twitter to connect with their discipline community, raise awareness of their work and increase interest in their publications; the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is moving into the social media sphere too.

People are talking about using social media to build your own Personal / Professional Learning Network (PLN) but if you haven’t really been involved with social media before it can seem daunting to think about doing that from scratch.

If your resolution for 2014 is to get to grips with social media then this post will suggest a few things that you can start to do depending on what stage you are at and offer links to more material on ways that academics are using social media.

I have never used any social media and am not sure why I would want to start. Many academics are finding Twitter and blogs in particular very useful for connecting to their research community and as an adjunct to conferences and academic publication. This guide from the LSE Public Policy Group Using Twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities outlines why academics are using Twitter and how to set it up if you want to try it yourself.

One way to see if Twitter is for you is to search for a keyword – just go to and type in your search term to see what conversations are happening on Twitter around that topic. You don’t need an account to search.

I use Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family but don’t use social media professionally. Try ‘liking’ some of the Facebook pages set up by professional organisations that can contribute to your professional development. This will give you an idea of how this social media platform could be used in a less personal way. You might want to start by looking at these pages:

I would like to try Twitter. The guide to Using Twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities includes nice clear explanations of how and why to get started on Twitter, but if you want to have a look before you set up your own account you can see what other people are tweeting by searching for their twitter accounts. For example, an online search for ‘Twitter Sussex University’ will find @SussexUni and @SussexUniStaff. There are many more Twitter accounts at Sussex and a list of Sussex tweeters has been put together. You can read any of their tweets without signing up to Twitter, but you need to have an account (which is free) to join in the conversation.

I need more than 140 characters to express myself but I’m not ready to write my own blog. If you like the idea of a social media network like Facebook where you can write posts and share images and links but are looking for something more interest-based than friendship-based then Googleplus might be for you. Based on circles and communities this platform encourages you to engage in discussions around shared interests with people you have never met. Not surprisingly for a Google service it has a good search facility that lets you easily find discussions on your favourite topics and hashtags link up conversations. Users can create circles of people then choose which circles they share posts with. For example, you may have an ‘education’ circle and a ‘cooking’ circle so that your lasagne recipe doesn’t interrupt your teaching discussions.

I prefer to read what others have written. Any of the social media allow for so-called ‘lurkers’ who consume the content posted by others but do not, at least initially, contribute themselves. This may be because what they are reading is only of peripheral interest to them, they are still feeling their way into the learning community or they do not have anything relevant to contribute. If you want to read short posts you can ‘lurk’ in Twitter, Facebook or Googleplus. If you are looking for something more substantial, but still much shorter than academic journal articles then try blog posts (like this one). Most blogs will encourage comments and discussion (see below) though to avoid abuse this will usually be moderated and there may be a delay before your comment appears.

Here are a few teaching and learning related blogs that you might like, but you will find many more by searching online for your topic, or by looking out for tweets promoting blog posts.

  • Alt-Ed ‘is devoted to documenting significant initiatives relating to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), digital badges, and similar alternative educational projects.’

  • The Ed Techie, Martin Weller, author of The Digital Scholar, blogs about the ‘impact of new technologies for learners and academics’.

  • HEA Social Sciences blog – posts about forthcoming events, conference papers etc.

  • theteachingtomtom from the Learning and Teaching Team, College of Design & Social Context, RMIT University, Australia.

  • theuniversityblog is aimed at students but is always interesting and includes comment on HE news.

Once you have found a few blogs that you like, you won’t want to have to keep checking back for new content; the solution is to either subscribe to them by email so that you get a message each time there is a new post (look out for a subscribe box like the one on the right of this page) or subscribe to an RSS feed. E-mail is easiest for beginners, but if you are reading a lot of blogs RSS feeds can be the best way of bringing all the content together in one place for you to read when you want. Feedly is one of the most popular RSS readers and is available on most platforms. For tablet or smartphone users, Flipboard is a very appealing magazine-style reader if you have just a few blogs to read.

I’ve been inspired and want to start blogging myself. It’s quite easy to start a blog of your own – what’s hard is keeping it going. Before you start, think carefully about what you are hoping to get from the activity and how you will fit blogging into your workflow. Martin Weller has written on encouraging educators to blog, more reasons to blog and whether blogging is a good use of time, from which you will gather that he believes it is worth doing!

The dominant blogging platforms are (which we use for RUSTLE) and blogger, both of which offer free blogs which can be private or public so you can play around with your blog before launching it on the world.

Update: sorting, collecting and curating. Since the first version of this post was published in June 2013 the topic of curating content – of collecting, sorting, annotating and re-presenting material using a variety of online tools – has become more important. Social bookmarking tools such as Delicious and Diigo have been around for quite a while but new platforms such as Pinterest, Flipboard and Scoop-it – to name just three – are offering new ways to manage and make sense of the wealth of resources available on the internet.

If you are interested in exploring some of the possibilities of using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Googleplus, blogs, social bookmarking and curating sites for your own learning and in your teaching then you might want to come along to the free Introduction to social media for learning and teaching workshop on 16th January 2014 10.00-12.00 (Sussex University staff only). This session is aimed at those new to these technologies and will offer a space in which to ask questions, have a look at the options and consider the ways in which they might be useful in participants’ own learning and teaching contexts. Sussex staff can book online via Sussex Direct.

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Study Direct Tips

Designed by your tutorsLearning activitiesOnline resources

It’s been a while since we had a Teaching Tips post in RUSTLE so here are a few Study Direct tips. It would be great to hear some more tips from users so please use the comments box to share your favourites.

Tips from Students to Tutors

The Practical Study Direct tips for tutors from students post from July 2012 is worth looking at if you are new to teaching at Sussex. It gives concrete suggestions for things that students would like to see in your use of Study Direct: clear titles and organisation; some specific types of content; a sense of personality; and an effort to blend Study Direct with the face-to-face teaching.

Moving resources, activities and sections.

When resources, activities or sections are added to Study Direct they appear at the bottom of the section or site but it is easy to move any of these items to where they will be most useful. There are FAQs that explain how to move resources and activities up or down within a section or into another section. To move sections you need to go into the dashboard area. Clicking on the green dashboard button under your name and profile picture at the top right of the site will take you to the dashboard area where you can drag and drop the sections into the order you want (FAQ 2440 explains how to move sections in dashboard).

Adding a lecture recording to more than one Study Direct site.

Now that lecture capture facilities are available in more teaching rooms there are increased opportunities to use lecture recordings as learning resources on Study Direct. It is now also possible to use a recording from one of your modules as a resource on another – perhaps to introduce some related ideas or to give students a taster of things to come. Recordings can be ‘claimed’ in the usual way and a link is created from each Study Direct site to the original recording.

Linking to resources and activities elsewhere in the same site.

Sometimes when writing an introduction or suggesting activities that you would like students to engage in at particular points it is useful to be able to include a link to a resource or activity somewhere else on the module site. For example, you might want to include a link to a forum, quiz or a particular piece of ‘displayed content’ or ‘click-to-reveal content’ that is in another section of the site (this won’t work for content on another site). This can be done in a few steps using the editing tools:

  1. Find the item you want to link to and right click on it
  2. Choose ‘copy link location’, ‘copy link address’, ‘copy shortcut’ or ‘copy link’ depending on which browser you are using – this will put the URL of the item in your clipboard ready to paste into a link.
  3. Then go to wherever you want your link to be, which could be in a forum post, a ‘displayed content’ resource or anywhere else that you can add a web link in Study Direct. Type the words you want to form your link, which will probably be the name of the resource or activity that you are linking to. This should always be something meaningful for anyone using screen-reading software rather than ‘click here’.
  4. Highlight the words for the link and click on the ‘link’ icon in the editor toolbar.
  5. Paste the URL that you had copied into your clipboard at step 2 into the URL box and click OK.
  6. Save.

Favouriting / organising your list of sites.

If you have a lot of Study Direct sites the simple alphabetical listing can mean that the ones you need most often are a long way down the screen. By clicking on the star icon at the right of a site listing you can add it to your ‘favourites’ and bring it to the top of the list. If you have several ‘favourites’ they will sort themselves alphabetically at the top of your main list. FAQ 2510 explains this feature.

Getting help with Study Direct.

There is lots of help available as you use Study Direct, in different places and forms, so in case you weren’t sure what to do if you got stuck or how to find the answer if you wanted to do a particular thing and didn’t know if Study Direct could do it or not, here are your options:

  • Orange Question marks: As you are using Study Direct you will find little orange question mark symbols where there are settings for you to choose. Clicking on these will open little help files offering explanations of the choices you are being given.
  • Help tab: At the top of every Study Direct screen on the blue bar is a ‘Help’ tab. Clicking on this opens up a wealth of searchable help pages arranged in sections covering everything from the basics to settings and tools.
  • Contacts:
    • The Help tab also provides links to some of the face-to-face support and guidance such as the drop-in sessions every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Shawcross (IT Services Helpdesk) 2pm – 4pm where you can get one-to-one help with Study Direct.
    • If you want to discuss how you can use Study Direct in your teaching or would like to attend a workshop on some aspect(s) of Study Direct you can contact Anne Hole (Learning Technologist, Technology Enhanced Learning Office) on
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