WebLearn has been specifically developed and tailored to meet the needs of the Oxford teaching model, giving flexibility to colleagues and students who wish to find and share materials online for a supported and blended approach to teaching and learning. It has been another good year for the WebLearn service, and so we have split the WebLearn category in two, awarding prizes for innovations that make use of WebLearn across a course or programme of study or use WebLearn to support student learning in new ways.
Lucile Deslignères & María Barragán-Orte: Providing Resources for Modern Languages Finalists
The listening comprehension and discourse topics examinations in Modern Languages finals consist of articles taken from foreign newspapers. Realising that, this year, the examinations were to take place on the day the Language Centre reopened after the Easter vacation, librarian Lucile Deslignères felt it was unfair that students would not have any exams on which to practice during the closed period. In addition, for a number years students had complained about that there were no online resources for them to practise on.
Providing newspaper articles online – particularly foreign-language ones – is fraught with copyright difficulties, and so Lucile decided to turn to the newspaper databases to which the University has access, such as Nexis UK and Factiva, and provide the students with links to suitable articles. She decided also to trawl the web for openly available materials.
Aided by María Barragán, a newly arrived ERASMUS student, Lucile found links to articles in all of the romance languages, as well as Irish, Greek, Czech and Russian and added them to WebLearn. An email to all Modern Languages finalists alerting them to the presence of the links in WebLearn not only generated impressive statistics of WebLearn visits but also expressions of gratitude that included, in Lucile’s words, ‘a chocolate box and a card… and a nice mention on Twitter.’
Ian Chilvers: The Social Sciences Library eReadings Service
Like many libraries in Oxford, the Bodleian Social Science Library can only afford to buy and keep a limited number of books for every reading list that it supports. This means that the available copies for students to borrow are limited and can only be accessed during library hours. The availability of e-books to purchase is also limited. SSL eReadings was created to make essential readings available to all students on the course at all times, by providing digitized copies of chapters and articles scanned under the CLA HE Licence. Students can read online, search full text, download and print all of the digitized readings uploaded to WebLearn.
SSL eReadings currently comprises just under 700 full text searchable PDFs across 17 degree programmes, including PPE which alone has a cohort of 748 students. The service is one more way in which the SSL is able to increase access to essential course readings alongside its other electronic collections (e-journals and e-books), thereby easing the demand on its print collection. Feedback from staff and students includes this enthusiastic testimony from a course convenor:
[O]ur students have found the service to be a huge time-saver, allowing them to devote their energies to reaching their learning aims, rather than searching for reading materials. Also, as a course convenor, it is wonderful to know that students have immediate, legitimate access to the materials they need.