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There seems to have been a flurry of activity around reading system systems in recent weeks. There’s the regular series of announcements of new customers for Talis Aspire which seems to clearly be the market-leader in this class of systems but there’s also been two particular examples of the integration of reading list systems into Moodle.
Firstly, the University of Sussex have been talking about their integration of Aspire into Moodle. Slides from their presentation at ALRG are available from their repository. There is also a really good video that they’ve put together that shows how the integration works in practice. The video shows how easy it seems to be to add a section from a reading list directly into a moodle course. It looks like a great example of integration that seems mostly to have been done without using the Aspire API. One question I’d have about the integration is whether it automatically updates if there are changes made to the reading list, but it looks like a really neat development.
The other reading list development comes from EBSCO with their Curriculum Builder LMS plugin for EBSCO Discovery. There’s also a video for this showing an integration with moodle. This development makes use of the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability standard (LTI) to achieve the integration. The approach mainly seems to be looked at from the Discovery system with features to let you find content in EBSCO Discovery and then add it to a Reading List, rather than being a separate reading list builder system. It’s interesting to see the tool being looked at from the perspective of a course creator developing a reading list and useful to have features such as notes for each item on a list. What looks to be different from the Sussex approach is that when you go to the reading list from within Moodle you are being taken out of Moodle and don’t see the list of resources in-line in Moodle.
There’s a developing resource bank of information on Helibtech at http://helibtech.com/Reading_Resource+lists that is useful to keep an eye on developments in this area.
The approach we’ve been taking is with a system called Liblink (which incidentally was shortlisted this year for the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management awards for Departmental ICT Initiative of the Year). Liblink developed out of a system created to manage dynamic content for our main library website, for pages like http://www.open.ac.uk/library/library-resources/statistics-sources
The concept was to pull resources from a central database that was being updated regularly with data from systems such as SFX and the library catalogue. This ensured that the links were managed and that there was a single record for each resource. It then became obvious that the system, with some development, could replace a clutch of different resource list and linking systems that had been adopted over the years and could be used as our primary tool to manage linking to resources. The tool is designed to allow us to push out lists of resources using RSS so they can be consumed by our Moodle VLE, but the tool also offers different formats such as html, plain text and RIS.
I picked up over the weekend via the No Shelf Required blog that EBSCO Discovery usage data is now being added into Plum Analytics. EBSCO’s press release talks about providing “researchers with a much more comprehensive view of the overall impact of a particular article”. Plum Analytics have fairly recently been taken over by EBSCO (and here) so it’s not so surprising that they’d be looking at how EBSCO’s data could enhance the metrics available through Plum Analytics.
It’s interesting to see the different uses that activity data in this sphere can be put to. There are examples of it being used to drive recommendations, such as hot articles, or Automated Contextual Research Assistance. LAMP is talking of using activity data for benchmarking purposes. So you’re starting to see a clutch of services-being driven by activity data just as the like’s of Amazon drive so much of what appears on their sales site by data driven by customer activity.