Posts Tagged ‘LearnBuild’

RefWorks UK users mailing list and meeting

Posted on October 4th, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

A couple of weeks ago I attended the second group meeting of RefWorks UK users, organised and hosted by Richard Cross at Nottingham Trent University. This isn’t so much a writeup* as a list of links and a few notes. These meetings are completely informal. The “user group” (if it even really exists) has no privileged status in relation to RefWorks, is completely unfunded, and anyone is welcome to organise a meeting.

*You just had to be there ;-)

Possibly the most practical thing to come out of the meeting – we now have a JISCMail list for UK RefWorks users in libraries. It’s an open list; DMU‘s Amanda Poulton and I are acting as list owners for the time being. We already have 138 members(!)

You can post to the list (and subscribe) via:

“This list is an open forum for discussion of issues relating to the use of RefWorks reference management software by educational institutions based in the UK. Topics discussed will include technical configuration, administration, user-support, training, marketing and advocacy. Membership is open to all, but will be most useful to librarians in UK Higher Education.”

We were pleased to have several representatives from ProQuest/RefWorks-COS at the meeting. RefWorks also very kindly sponsored lunch and refreshments. They gave the attendees an update on recent developments in the RefWorks v2 interface, and also went through some highlights from the RefWorks product development roadmap – including plans for stabilising Write-N-Cite IV, and later an exclusive (genuinely – the first ever time it had been demo-ed in public in Europe) run-through of ProQuest’s plans for a brand-new, “next-generation” reference management and collaboration product – the ultimate successor to RefWorks itself. We’re not allowed to say too much about it at this stage… which is probably for the best, because unfortunately the presenters suffered from a very poor transatlantic phone line, and I missed most of the finer points of the demo :-(

Information Librarian Hannah Young from So’ton Solent University gave an excellent presentation of their myCourse reading lists project ( Working with Owen Stephens and building on the earlier TELSTAR project, this uses the RefWorks API and shared folder RSS feeds to integrate reading lists stored in RefWorks into their Moodle VLE (“myCourse”). This replaced Solent’s use of LearnBuild LibraryLink. Hannah’s presentation slides are here.

Later we split into two groups to discuss how we promote/support and (my group) manage and administer RefWorks. We discussed our own approaches to RefWorks’ administrative tools, usage reports; the use of RefShare, RefGrabIt and Write-N-Cite, and also strayed into support documentation: I discovered there’s a RefWorks LibGuide which we could re-use/adapt, at:

Finally, a discussion on possible RefWorks enhancement priorities based on our own concerns – are there common themes amongst UK customers? We came up with a few, including:

  • The ability to set a default display style for imported references;
  • Federated authentication as standard on all interfaces (RefMobile, WnC IV);
  • Integration with next-gen discovery environments;
  • “User voice”-type systems for capturing user ideas and turning them into development plans.

A couple more informal user group meetings are in the pipeline – in the meantime there’s the new listserv!

Options for reading list management: LIG

Posted on June 18th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

InnovationAt our Library Innovation Group (LIG) meeting this coming Monday (20 June), we’re going to be taking a fresh look at how we support the use of online reading lists in the University of Lincoln.

At the moment, we use a reading list product called LearnBuild LibraryLink, which integrates nicely with our Blackboard VLE and allows subject librarians to keep on top of multiple lists. However, it’s fair to say it’s not always the easiest software to use. Here are my instructions on maintaining reading lists in LibraryLink [PDF].

When I gave a presentation about our experiences of using reading list software at the second ‘Innovations in Reference Management‘ event last year (#irm10), Owen Stephens the event organiser liveblogged our situation quite nicely:

Paul reflecting that Lincoln only partially successful in implementing ‘reading lists’.

University of Lincoln – bought reading list system, funds were only available for short period, so had limited time to assess full requirements and how far chosen product met their requirements.


  • filled a void
  • improved consistency
  • gave library an ‘in’ on launch of new VLE (Blackboard)
  • hundreds of modules linked in by 2000
  • students are using them – have usage stats from both LearnBuild and Blackboard
  • some simple stock-demand prediction

Unfortunately there were quite a few areas not so successful:

  • not intuitive; time-consuming
  • software not being developed
  • no community of users
  • competing developements (EPrints, digitisation, OPAC, RefWorks)
  • too closely linked to Blackboard module system
  • Subject libraries don’t like it, but lack of uptake from academics means that it is the subject librarians who end up doing the work.

However, unless library can demonstrate success, unlikely to get money to buy better system… So library putting more effort into make it work.

So: on Monday, I’m hoping to kick off a discussion by giving a quick run-through of the various online reading list management options available to UK Higher Education libraries. These screenshot slides (which are a visual aid / aide mémoire rather than a proper presentation) list the various products and approaches to reading list management. Some are commercial software projects; others are Open Source projects; still others are being developed in-house at various universities (and are not necessarily available for the University of Lincoln to use – e.g. the University of Huddersfield’s MyReading Project); there are a couple of wildcard solutions in there too.

Here are the slides:

Taking a look at Blackboard 9.1

Posted on May 19th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

The University of Lincoln is planning to upgrade its Blackboard VLE, currently at version 8.0, to the new release, ‘Blackboard Learn 9.1‘, in time for the next academic year 2011/12.

Julian Beckton (CERD) has been blogging about the features of 9.1 for a while. The upgrade happening this summer is an opportunity to review how the Library is using Bb, as well as a chance to check for any potential problems / compatibility issues with the change in versions.

So, where does the Library turn up in Blackboard at the moment?

  1. We have a Bb Library ‘tab’, existing both pre- and post-login, which contains a range of Bb widgets advertising and linking to various Library’s services:
  2. We’re using Talis Keystone to provide an overview of each Blackboard user’s library borrowing activity. The ‘My Library Account‘ widget (mentioned above) displays a summary of a user’s borrowing, derived—in real time—from their own Horizon account. Future iterations of the same widget will allow users to pay library fines online (imminent!) and to view and interact more detail about their borrowing. There’s also a shorter, ‘My Library Account (Overview)’ widget, which appears on the Blackboard home page tab.
    My Library Account (Overview) widget
  3. We also use Blackboard to manage our digitisation (under the CLA Comprehensive HE Licence for photocopying, scanning, and digital copying). Bb’s Content Store [Content Collection? I'm not sure of the terminology] provides a pretty simple file storage tool, with access via the browser or WebDAV folders. It also allows us to set file & folder permissions for student/staff users and for ‘authorised persons’—i.e. Library staff—for individual courses of study (=modules, usually), as specified by the CLA licence. Academic staff are then given the deep-linking URLs for ‘their’ digitised extracts, which they can add to their Bb module Sites. We just use ‘normal’ Bb folders for our digitisation – Blackboard also offers a dedicated ‘eReserves‘ feature, but when we initially configured Blackboard—in 2007/08—we decided not to use it and now I can’t remember why. The Content Store works well enough for managing digitised extracts, although it’s rather labour-intensive. We could really do with a dedicated Digital Asset Management (DAM) tool.
  4. Reading lists:  we pay an annual subscription for a reading list management application called LearnBuild LibraryLink. This comes with its own Blackboard plugin, which generates and associates a reading list (or multiple lists) with a single Bb module Site. I’m going to be talking about reading list management, and our use of LibraryLink, in a separate blog post very soon.
  5. My colleagues the Academic Subject Librarians are involved with the teaching-and-learning / delivery / ‘subject’ aspect of Blackboard. This involvement can take many forms: training students on the use of Bb at induction; assisting CERD in supporting academic staff use of Bb; maintaining dedicated sections of module Sites and Bb subject ‘communities’ to house links to library resources and help guides; the occasional foray into plagiarism detection using the Turnitin plugin; and developing information-literacy-type materials under the University-wide banner of Learning Development.
  6. Finally: I’m a SysAdmin for Blackboard, so I occasionally get called upon to assign Site permissions, create page widgets, troubleshoot, etc. This does only happen occasionally, because there are other SysAdmins in CERD and University ICT Services who spend far more time with Bb, and know more about it, than I do.

These six areas are what we’ll need to bear in mind as we plan for Blackboard 9.1. I’ll address each one of them in a future blog post, and I’ll be working with ICT and CERD staff to look at how they might be affected using a test installation of 9.1 – I’ll also take the opportunity to make recommendations about how we might be able to do things better in future.