How can we improve Talis Aspire Reading Lists?

Export list as printable document (e.g. txt, rtf, doc, pdf)

From an academic ...

At the risk of becoming unpopular...I would like to be able to use the online reading list to populate a module handbook - but this new version does not have an easily copyable format.

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Ian Corns (Talis) shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →


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  • Annette Moore commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Following on from continued pressure from academics to be able to export a reading list in Aspire to a word document, as many courses provide a Course Handbook as well as an online reading list in Aspire, could you expand on the reasons for not developing an export to Word?

    Are there particular technical difficulties in doing this? It just seems to me that if it is possible to do an export to pdf, it must be possible to provide an export to a word document in some format and looking back at all the comments from other Universities, it has been a constant request from academics to have this functionality.

    It doesn't take away from the use of Aspire as the online reading list, but it does give academics the flexibility to develop their course handbook (if required to do so) without duplication which has been a key message in the marketing of Aspire.

    University of Sussex

  • Sandra Cockburn commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Just to add, easy print off/exporting lists for a hard copy or saving as a file in a useful format, eg PDF AND Word (Excel very much a poor second for most of our academics) is crucial for us. If we are aiming to persuade lecturers to abandon their printed lists and just point students to the reading lists, we need to be able to print it off, complete with all the local information eg notes. Currently the 'export citations' allows you to export an .RIS file for EndNote, but the notes fields don't go across and articles/chapters are very patchy. Lecturers have already raised this point with us in initial discussions - they don't trust the cloud, or local network reliability, and are really quite scared of losing all their work or not being able to get hold of it when they want it. If they can't easily export from Aspire, I think they will stick to putting together their lists in Word first, thereby doubling their workload and making it very unlikely that they will adopt Aspire wholeheartedly or as any more than an add-on...

  • Mario Sos commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate


    I would like to support this idea. We at Monash university would very much appreciate the ability to export an Aspire list as a PDF if not in word format.

    We also had an idea to export the Dashboard as a PDF for distribution. If this can be made as an additional option when exporting a list that would be very helpful to us.


  • Michael Fake commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Just wanted to reaffirm Annette's point below, that one of the ways that a physical copy of the list will be used is by students scouring the shelves to find hard-copy books and journals. It's therefore absolutely vital that any printout contains the classmark / location / holding information taken from the item detail view.

  • Annette Moore commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is great news. The ability to print a useful physical copy of the list will be welcomed by students and academics. I imagine one of the key issue will be the format of the citation on the resulting printout as the brief details on the front page of the Aspire reading list, will not be sufficient to identify the item so it will need to pick up on the full metadata from the Item Detail view.


  • David Stephenson commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    We're also about to commence roll-out to academic schools and this is something which could be a potential stumbling block. We will have no problem emphasising the merits of the system but may lose some traction when lack of print-ability is raised. Several staff involved in technology enhanced learning have expressed dismay when i've told them it's not possible!

    What is likely is that those staff who want it in paper form will simply use a work around anyway - such as printing off the webpage, exporting the list to reference software etc. It would therefore make more sense to have print-ability integrated so they at least get a higher quality outcome.

  • Emma commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    We're in the roll out phase at different stages across the university and this is one of the most common questions I've been asked by academics. I've read through the comments and see it's been a discussion for some time. It still says under review, but any decision been reached? While I understand the source of truth element completely it is something that would be very popular with the academics particularly for module outlines, course documents etc. Not necessarily to print out to give to students. For some it's even just the indicative readings that have to be included on the module descriptor which more often than not are word docs.

  • Suzanne commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Do we have a time frame for when this might get done? I've had academics asking me again today, saying it will make their lives so much easier if they could export their lists from Aspire into their module handbooks (in Word).

  • June Hedges commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I have just posted to the jiscmail list, but an update on this idea would be much appreciated. It's been under review for some time, but as I said in my email: this is still an issue for us and is impacting on our academics willingness to engage with Aspire and in some cases is causing them to stop using it after only one year!

  • AdminIan Corns (Talis) (Admin, Talis) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I think that's a good point Suzanne abut removing barriers, which echoed conversation we had internally when discussing this the other day. Ultimately, the second the user copies the list in text format, the user begins to perpetuate a versioning problem. If they add something onto their list in Aspire, then they are back to recopying it into all the other places they had pasted it to. Aspire needs to act as a source of truth and, ideally, become a far more dynamic place. However, I think it will take time for people to realise that a link pointing to the list is far less effort and the easiest way to learn this is to actually copy/paste a few times.

    As an aside, one argument I used with a group of academics once that did work was to look at their course handbook and highlight the other places where they had links pointing out to external pages. It did initiate the discussion "well, we should do the same with our lists too".

  • Suzanne commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    My experience at Sussex has been that in order to get academics to engage with Aspire, we need to remove as many barriers as we can. I have frequently been asked if Aspire can export to Word. Whilst it may feel an outmoded way of working, if it's what they want, it would be good to be able to offer it. Hopefully, as they get more confidient with Aspire, they will draw their own conclusions about producing print documents.

  • Linda Jones commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This may also be a question of administration. Having just gone through an accreditation event for Law degrees it is still obviously very paper based. External bodies seem to want paper handbooks and sample materials rather than electronic versions being able to print these directly from a current reading list would help in these circumstances

  • June Hedges commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    We've had this request from a couple of our early adopters. It is potentially a barrier to widespread adoption of Aspire. We've done some further quizzing and the reasons why a printable document (ideally with full citations) is still important are:
    1. Our students and academics aren't completely online yet, and still want a physical item to carry around with them and annotate. Of course, we can work on changing this culture, but it will take time (years rather than months) and we risk low adoption if we can't offer a decent printed version of the list in the meantime. Incidentally, because of our location many students use other libraries in central London and will want a portable version of the list to take with them.
    2. During lectures/seminars academics will refer to specific items on the list. Students want to be able to annotate the lists with this information (they won't all have laptop/tablets with them so can't do any of this in the Aspire list - we've done plenty of surveying on this and many students don't bring their devices with them every day for various reasons).
    3. In subject areas where students are still heavily reliant on printed books they like to annotate the lists with our classmarks (and locations in other libraries) and use these in the libraries to find multiple books. In the short term until there is functionality for students to send references and locations to their phone etc. we still need to give them a printed list to annotate.
    4. We've had confirmation from 1 department so far that they still require tutors to give students a printed list at the start of term. Again we can work on changing this, but we need a short-middle term solution.
    5. Academics will not be willing to maintain 2 versions of a reading list to fulfil the desire to have a printed version. We want them to be using Aspire and nothing else really, so we need to make Aspire work for them or they won't use it.

    A couple of other related things that might need to appear as separate ideas, but...
    the citation format of these printed lists really isn't an issue for us. So long as the citations are consistent.
    We have looked into generating printed versions of lists using the export citations option. But for this to work we need to be able to export all the notes fields too (and maintain the order of the citations/notes) or else the exported version makes no sense and loses all the the descriptive/unstructive information that academics add. I suspect this may be a different idea.

  • AdminIan Corns (Talis) (Admin, Talis) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The counter argument to this Idea is why do customers/students/academics need it in printed or text format? Can't the academic just add the link to the list in the module handbook, for example, rather than create two places to maintain by copying chunks/all of the list? is this a 'repeating existing behaviour' issue rather than a requirement?

    I'm more asking these questions to garner specific feedback rather than denounce the idea, as I've encountered it too. So, what specific scenario's are there when printing a list IS a valid need? Equally, when would it be better practice to copy/paste a list's text into another context rather than just put a link to the Aspire list?

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    During training sessions, some academics have shown disappointment that they can't export to Word. I think this is a barrier to academics using Aspire because they feel their workload is doubled as they have to maintain both formats of their lists.

  • Richard Cross commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    A specific request for a Word (or Rich Text) format export of full list data has been raised by our Academic Liaison Team (rather than an uneditable [or hard to edit] pdf format). Happy to see both offered...

  • Vicki Cormie commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I've had an academic wanting to export complete multiple lists as a pdf. It wouldn't necessarily be a complete branch from a hierarchy but more particular years, eg all junior honours courses into one single pdf.

  • Annette Moore commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is a request that we are getting from our Media and Film department. They do want to be able to export selected bookmarks to a word document, preferably in a full citation style such as Harvard.

  • AdminIan Corns (Talis) (Admin, Talis) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    27/08/2009 10:53:14 [Ian Corns (Talis)]
    Completely valid request and something we've obviously talked about. Really just a case of waiting to see how much value there is in this alongside other ideas.

    02/09/2009 09:53:09 [Jayne Moss]
    I've just had a similar request from another lecturer I was demonstrating to. I suggested that a paper version of the module handbook was fairly old fashioned and if in electronic format they could just add the url to the i probably won't vote either way on this.

    07/09/2009 04:54:04 [Julie Luxton]
    The option to export a list to another document is important. I think that the idea of a module handbook, whether print or electronic, is that it should contain all the information students require and not just links. This has been one of the most frequently raised issues by my academics.
    They are also required to submit a reading list when put a new module up for approval. Aspire would be ideal for them as it allows the collection of resources over as period of time but they would need to be able to export it to a pro-forma.

    03/11/2009 10:16:01 [Ian Corns (Talis)]
    From academic workshops, I have also had similar comments. My question is what form should this take, which would meet academics needs at all institutions? What information should it have and how should it be structured?

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