Friday 30 January 2009

The JISC National E-books Observatory Project

As part of our commitment to providing the latest resources, Information Services became part of the JISC National E-books Observatory Project - an experiment aiming to understand how e-books are being used that could help to shape the future of e-book provision in the UK. The project is investigating:
  • the impact of core text e-books on student learning;
  • how students find and use e-books;
  • what they think of them;
  • how e-books can be promoted;
  • how e-books might fulfil their potential as a vital educational resource.
The project provides Information Services with free access to 36 core and recommended reading texts in a number of areas, with no restrictions on the number of simultaneous users of these e-books. The license allows staff and students to copy, print, and paste parts of the e-books e.g. into teaching materials, handouts, course work, presentations and course areas in Blackboard.

How to find the e-books included in this project
In return the Library agreed to disseminate surveys to staff and students as part of the project, gathering the qualitative data on your opinions and attitudes to e-books. The first one took place in January 2008, and was probably the largest e-book survey ever undertaken, with more than 23,000 responses from students and staff at UK universities. There was a national prize of £200 of Amazon vouchers for one respondent - and out of all the universities in the UK, and those 23,000 responses, the winner was an Aberystwyth student from the Department of Mathematics! It just shows that filling in library surveys can be an extremely worthwhile experience. :-)

The project team are now distributing an exit questionnaire to see how things have moved forward in the last year and how attitudes and behaviour towards e-books have changed, and again there are £200 of Amazon vouchers as a prize - can Aberystwyth win again? Please help the project by filling in the questionnaire. Complete the E-books exit survey

Project findings so far
We have already received one in-depth report on e-book usage at Aberystwyth University, and it was interesting to note that half of the 121 respondents had used our ebooks, and in a third of the cases it was the tutor who directed them there.

An Aberystwyth student can have the last word (comment taken from the survey):
"I am currently a distance learning student - electronic books mean that I have as equal access to information resources as a full time student. They are essential to my studies; I would not be able to complete my assignments without them."

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