As we’ve noted previously, the ACI Scholarly Blog Index offers professors and instructors a palatable set of tools and features that can assist with academic research and course development. More blogs and social media platforms are being incorporated into course assignments than ever before, so it’s a pretty exciting time to explore the plethora of digital tools that might enhance the academic experience for your colleagues and students. With scholarly blogs covering all disciplines and fields of study, you’ll find some amazing posts from experts and thought leaders that might really benefit your students. Below is just one example of how a faculty member might go about setting up a course assignment using the tools available in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index. Just click on any image to view a larger version in a new tab or window.
You’re a political theorist and university lecturer. Many of your course projects are ones you’ve carried over from other semesters, but you want to explore something that’s a little different. You’ll be covering international genocide later in the course. You want a course assignment that directly relates to that topic.
To create a list of assigned readings based on credentialed experts and thought leaders posting on international genocide.
1. On your university’s custom ACI portal page (or at scholar.aci.info), enter your topic or keyword (genocide) and press Enter.
Access your university’s ACI portal via your library’s research database page, or through your university’s custom ACI link. You’ll see the search box right on the front page. (Don’t yet have a custom portal or link? Contact us and we’ll get you set up – in the meantime, just visit scholar.aci.info.)
There are many ways to search ACI right from the front page. You can search or browse by keyword, exact phrase, author name, blog title, institutional affiliation, Library of Congress classification, and more. In this example, though, we’ll run a simple keyword search using the keyword of genocide.
2. On the search results page, apply a relevant Library of Congress classification facet (JZ: International Relations) to narrow the results by LC topic.
ACI offers numerous facet filtering options on the left of any search results page, and we can use any of these – and in any combination – to narrow our results. For example, we could limit by Author’s Degree Subject, Country, Author Holds Position At, Publication Date, and more. The Library of Congress Classification facet is also very useful, as most colleges and universities use that classification system to organize and arrange their resources. (Not sure what LC class fits your goals and objectives? Access the full list of LC classes here.)
In this example, let’s choose the Library of Congress Classification facet of JZ: International Relations. While the LC class of JA: Political Science (General) might also work, the JZ LC class gets us a bit closer to our topic, which is international genocide. To apply this facet, simply click right on JZ: International Relations on the left.
The new color indicates that this filter has been applied to our search results. If we wanted to remove that filter for any reason, we can simply click on the newly-colored facet button on the left – or at the top of the page – to remove that filter and return to our previous results. We could also click on the Clear Filters button at the top.
3. Apply an Author’s Degree facet (PhD) to limit results to only those authors with that degree.
We can easily limit to any degree shown in the Author’s Degree facet, and the most relevant degree might depend on your discipline or course assignment goals. However, applying the PhD facet can be a fast, effective way to ensure that students are assigned posts authored by scholars.
To apply this facet, we’ll click on the PhD option under the Author’s Degree facet on the left. As with the LC class facet previously applied, the new color indicates that this filter has also been applied to our search results. Applying both of these facets has reduced the number of resulting posts, as their applications have further refined our search results.
4. Choose your desired posts and click on Add to List at the top.
If you would rather provide your students with a full list of the results so that they can choose their own readings from that list, click on Select All under ACI’s selection tool at the top.
5. Click on Create a new list on the resulting Lists options box.
6. Set the name, description, tags, and privacy settings for your list.
Type a name for your list. Try to be descriptive, creating a title that will inform (and remind) you and your students of its contents or intended use. In this case, we’ll call it POLSCI 5200 Readings: International Genocide.
Enter any desired tags that you want to associate with that list, along with a concise description of the intended purpose(s) of the list. Tags can be either words or phrases. In this case, let’s create tags with our primary discipline (Political Science), our topic (international genocide), and the Course ID (POLSCI 5200). We’ll also add the semester and section (Summer II 2015) as a tag, which may assist with organization as your list collection grows or for easy reference of content assigned for specific classes or sessions. When designing your course assignment, remember that you can use other terms as tags – even your name or university – to help define your list.
Choose the privacy settings for your list. Your lists can be private or public. Public lists are searchable by ACI users on the Lists page, while private lists are not searchable on that page. Because list owners can still share their private lists with others, you can set a course assignment list to private and still share it with students using the steps below – just remember that they could still share the list URL or other details of its contents. In addition, you can always change the selected privacy option later.
In this case, let’s select the Public option so that other researchers – including faculty and students at other institutions – can find our list and perhaps use it for their own research or course development goals.
7. Click on the orange Create List button, and then on Add to List.
Clicking on the orange Create List button finalizes the creation of your new list. You’ll then see it displayed on the original Lists box. Now just click on Click on Add to List to add the posts to your newly-created list.
8. On your Lists page, click on that list name (POLSCI 5200 Readings: International Genocide) on the left.
To access your Lists page from anywhere in ACI, click on the menu icon next to your name in the upper-right corner, and then on Lists. In addition to options for searching public lists, creating new lists, or viewing your list posts (via the ACI Stream), you’ll also see your lists in the My Lists section in the lower-left. Click on the POLSCI 5200 Readings: International Genocide list name to manage or share that list.
9. Share the list handout with your students, and/or choose from the other available options.
You can easily print or save a PDF handout with list access instructions by clicking the Print Handout button. If the course assignment will be digitally shared, save the handout as a PDF attachment to share with students, or you can print the PDF to hand out print copies.
There are many available sharing and content organization/access options. You’ll see several right off the bat, such as an email option that allows you to share the permalink to your list with students. If you click the red plus sign, you’ll notice there are many other options as well, like Twitter, WordPress, Evernote, and others.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are numerous alternate paths we might take to get an equally-relevant list of scholarly posts in our topic. The strategy outlined above is just one example of many, and the search strategies, facets applied, and even the ordering of steps taken will differ depending on your discipline, depth of coverage in blogs, and your ultimate goals for student objectives and course development.
Try it now with your own faculty discipline or major field of study, and be sure to let us know in the comments below what worked for your field or course goals. These tools – and many others! – are there to enhance the research experience for all academic users, so take advantage of them. Incorporate ACI’s tools and features in your course development projects, and experience the full potential that scholarly blogs offer for you and your students today.