Digital Literacy

Time to ditch the reading list? (HYeLN Conference Workshop)

Workshop for the Higher York eLearning Network Conference, 6 June 2011

Matt Cornock (SPSW, University of York)


Trying different reading lists

Delegates, readers of this site and cloud participants are invited to try out a ‘non-traditional’ reading list and/or reading list activity and report back your experience via Cloudworks. You can try perhaps an activity in a single week, or even a single module. View and contribute to the suggestions and ideas on what makes a good reading list and what could you do if you weren’t allowed a reading list on the Cloudworks discussion site.


This discussion workshop will ask participants to consider the role reading lists play as part of a module supported by technology. In particular, with the proliferation of online resources, we will ask whether prescriptive, reference-based reading lists reflect the needs of students in the digital information age.

The workshop will begin by briefly outlining the range of resources that are available to students and the methods in which they can find and engage with these resources. We will then seek input from the participants as to the process they undertake when creating reading lists and attempt to answer the question: ‘what makes a good reading list?’ It is encouraged that participants bring their own examples of reading lists and list structures to prompt discussion.

Following this discussion will be a brief presentation of results from a small-scale survey of students comparing digitised reading lists (using EARL, the University of York’s VLE-based reading list system) to traditional paper-based lists. The results indicate a wider issue of students’ lack of engagement of resources ‘beyond the reading list’.

Challenging the rigidity of reading lists and drawing upon recent literature, we will then discuss how technology can be used to provide both structure and flexibility with digital resources. Without focusing too greatly on specific technology, we will introduce the ideas of socially constructed or ‘on-the-fly’ reading lists which utilise technology. Participants will discuss in small groups whether, as practitioners, they feel this use of technology may be an appropriate method for engaging students in using resources ‘beyond the reading list’. The aim of the workshop will be to form models of how to incorporate resources within modules, without a dependence on prescriptive reading lists.

Delegates will learn:

  • Types of online resources that are widely available and used in academic work
  • Methods of collating online resources to form reading lists
  • Opportunities that online technologies provide in diversifying the structure and purpose of reading lists

Delegates will be able to use what they have learned:

  • By applying different reading list models to their courses
  • By sharing their experience and student reactions with other practitioners via an online space

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