e-resources are electronic devices and applications that may be used to enhance students’ learning. This could be anything from using apps or supplementary videos, to blogging.
At the University of Reading, development of free online courses has been taking place. These are known as MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses. A MOOC is it a self-contained course, run online for members of the public around the world so that they may access and learn about a subject of their choosing. Often, taking a MOOC will result in accreditation from the university that is delivering it.
Currently, the University of Reading operates five MOOCs. They are in a number of disciplines, from business to science. The duration of each course ranges from four weeks to nine weeks, typically requiring about three hours of work per week, which the student does at their own convenience.
OpAL – or Open Access to Languages – is a project intended to make languages accessible to students of modern languages within the context of the UK education. The aim of the project is to provide language learning support materials to those who already have an understanding of how languages work but want to improve their skills, and also to those who have never had any experience of learning a second language. OpAL is divided into four modules: Grammar and Grammaring, the “Many” Parts of Language, Using a Bilingual Dictionary, and Online Translation Tools.
The videos filmed for this supplementary material will be animated using software run by Sparkol. There will also be standard video recordings of the person presenting.
In the department of agriculture, Julian Park is very keen on introducing e-learning to the practical fieldwork and has received funding for a project called enhancing fieldwork learning.
Enhancing Fieldwork Learning focuses on using affordable, ubiquitous technologies such as iPads, digital cameras and social networks to address a series of problems that may arise during fieldwork, such as lack of student engagement or limited connectivity.
iPads and other electronic devices have been fitted with durable cases making them suitable for tougher terrains and have applications such as Leafsnap and Fotobabble installed to help students map locations for plants and verbally identify plants which they have found.