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Developing and Re-Purposing Collections of Digital Material


 Learning and teaching using digital resources

Digital repositories, and the Internet in general, can be used as a resource for students to conduct their own study. Doing so gives rise to issues that need some thought to managing. An evaluation of learning and teaching at Warwick (carried out as part of the ARCHES project) indicates that the students’ biggest issues are

  • being overwhelmed by the amount of information supplied, particularly with regard to the Internet,
  • Identifying the degree of work that is required,
  • Confidence in the validity of the knowledge they are constructing,
  • Confidence in the relevance to the curriculum of the knowledge they are constructing,·
  • Awareness of any “missing” information, i.e. whether they have covered all the areas of the syllabus that they are required to know.

Strategies for dealing with these concerns might include:

  1. Setting generic questions for the study. This could be a template for the resource-based work listing the essential elements of the study that need to be completed.
  2. Selecting specific websites for the students to read.
  3. Enabling students to share the websites they have found and their evaluations of these websites in order to build up a common resource.
  4. Presenting the resource-based work in class as part of a seminar. This enables the work to be commented on by the lecturers, so that the students’ constructed knowledge can be validated and, if necessary, completed or further guided to completion by the lecturer.

Conversely, concerns have been expressed about providing too much structuring to the information available to students through the Internet and repositories. In so doing, this can limits students’ development of information processing skills. While this needs to be taken into consideration when students are conducting resource-based learning, these skills need to be developed incrementally. It is easy to underestimate the difficulty that making sense of a wide range of digital resources can present.

 Location of subject based digital resources

Local sources

The subject librarians can assist you in identifying electronic resources that you can use to support learning and teaching as well as advise you on copyright free materials.

Electronic journals to which the University subscribes can be browsed and searched from the electroninc resources pages of the library's website.

National sources

Subject-specific digital repositories are maintained by the Resource Discovery Network and the Higher Education Academy. The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) supports data services for a range of subject disciplines. For example, the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS); the Social Sciences Information Gateway (SOSIG).

A motion picture and television data service maintained by BUFVC (British Universities Film and Video Council) has also recently been launched

.The University of Warwick has also subscribed to the EDINA digital repository, which has resources on the following subject areas:

  • Health, Agricultural, and Life Sciences
  • Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Engineering, Informatics and Physical Sciences
  • General Reference Services

These can be accessed through the EDINA website .To access the services you will need to use your ATHENS username and password. This is the same username that you use to access your PC at Warwick, with a “war” added to the start (e.g. for Warwick usercode apsaj, the ATHENS username is warapsaj) and your normal password.

Intellectual Property Issues and digital resources

Many materials may be freely usable, or usable under certain conditions. These are marked with two small c’s in a circle, rather than just the one used in copyrighted material. The conditions to their use may be that they are not used commercially, or that anything created using them is similarly shared. More information is available from the Creative Commons website.

Material that is not shared under these licences is more problematic. There is a “fair use” argument that may protect their use within education, but the argument that HE is non-commercial is becoming more difficult to sustain.

Similarly, students may wish to use images to illustrate their presentations or essays. They should be aware that doing so may infringe copyright. Even if the copyright is cleared, they should be properly referenced, as with any text.

To avoid any problems, images can be hyperlinked within a presentation by simply pasting their URL into the text, and delivered online, so that the images can be called up during the presentation. For example, the Creative Commons symbols are copyrighted, so were not included in the preceding paragraphs. If essays are shared online, (e.g. via a course website) then the same can be done with them.