Reading Pack 2.0

Just over three years ago I blogged about creating a reading pack for my introductory anthropology class. I’ve just put the finishing touches to the 4th version of the reading pack so thought it might be a good time to reflect on its use in my class.

I’d produced the pack in response to students’ comments about the lack of textbook for the course, and for the first two years I recovered the costs (around £7 for 200+ pages) from the students themselves. The pack was very popular and I’m happy to say that the Foundation Centre now pays for the packs. This is generous, but in the years before the pack I would give the students module handbooks and some readings (where mandatory) so this replaces the time and resource costs of that.

Evolution of the reading pack

Evolution of the reading pack

I’ve recently updated a couple of the readings in the pack as new editions of the sources were available. 3 years ago the process of scanning the books and getting something usable into a word document was particularly laborious (something I document in the blog post) but now it was relatively straightforward. I used a dedicated book scanner in our library to produce PDFs and a web based tool to convert these into a series of jpegs. There was still a lot of work (and faff!) in cropping, resizing, and brightening the images (around half a day for 40 odd pages!) but I’m very happy with the results.

I’m currently revamping my VLE course sites and part of this will include weekly discussion boards (pre-loaded with questions) around each week’s reading.  I was wondering wether there were any tools out there that would allow me to host a pdf of each reading in a way that students could comment on or annotate within the VLE? I think this could be particularly useful for international students who I see annotate their readings in their own language.

Is anybody else using reading packs in this way? or in more interesting ways?

About digitalscholar

I am a sociologist with an interest in new technology. Previously I’ve worked on a number of projects at Lancaster University and the Open University looking at the use of new technologies and social media by researchers. I was also a social sciences teaching fellow at the foundation centre at Durham University teaching sociology and anthropology. I am now a senior lecturer at the University of West London's Institute for Teaching, Innovation and Learning where I oversee the foundation provision and support retention. I'm sure I'll still be interested in, and occasionally blog about, tech related things. I use this blog to post thoughts about using new technologies in my professional academic life and wider thoughts and links relating to technology more generally.
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