This blog post was written by Jacky MacMillan, Head of the University of the Highlands and Islands Educational Development Unit*
As the eTIPS project has progressed, at an institutional level there has been a significant interest in ways in which the outputs of the project could be embedded to maximise the impact of the eTIPS team’s work. To that end the project team have identified four distinct use cases:
Global enhancement opportunity
The ease with which the eTIPS project has been able to access a global audience with the books published through the project, has left us in no doubt that it is possible for the university to command a global audience for ebooks published in the future. The distribution channel selected for the project, Amazon Kindle is both readily accessible and powerful. Whether or not the drivers for publishing work are about income generation, as an opportunity to enhance reputation or raise the profile of the university and promote the work that it does. The analytics available show that sales and page reads are worldwide including the EU, Japan, US and South Africa.
Digital learning resources
One driver for the initiation of the eTIPS project was the expertise which the university has through its Educational Development Unit in producing high quality engaging digital learning resources. Being able to create learning resources as ebooks is of significant value. The convenience and ease of use of the outputs of the eTIPS publications suggests that well formatted platform independent text based resources have merit in their own right as digital learning resources. Students tell us they appreciate the functionality and clarity offered by the Kindle format as well as the ease of access on and offline that the ability to download to a device brings. Adding the ‘ebook’ to the suite of tools already available to staff has potential to widen access to learning programmes, enhance the student experience and contribute to the open agenda.
Throughout the course of this project the eTIPS team have been mindful of the potential that epublishing has to develop writing skills in academics. The team recognises that writing skills, whether it be for academic publishing or for learning materials delivered on line is an important digital literacy competence required of our academic staff. The team recognises that academic writing and publishing in peer reviewed journals may be a daunting prospect for an early career academic. It could be argued that an early foray into epublishing with support on hand from an experienced team has the potential to develop competence and increase confidence. The team argues that for an early career academic, epublishing provides a springboard to academic publishing and furthermore, supports engagement with the local and wider FE and HE communities.
Publishing for students
With many initiatives professing the benefits to the learning experience of student generated content it is difficult to ignore the potential that epublishing has in this regard. At the time of writing the university has initiated a pilot project to enable academic staff to support their students to write and publish a chapter of an ebook as part of their coursework. Furthermore the team has been approached on several occasions with requests to publish student dissertations. In a similar vein to the first use case, there is potential to take the best of our students work and publish and distribute it in ebook format. By publishing students’ work in this way there is potential to enhance organisational and individual reputation globally. Offering to publish the ‘top two dissertations’ could incentivise student achievement.
* As a Senior Fellow of the HEA, Jacky established and has led the University of the Highlands and Islands Educational Development Unit since its inception in 2011. With a passion for equivalence in access to education in the Highlands and Islands her experience is in establishing and managing technology enhanced learning (TeL) projects, such as eTIPS nationally and internationally. As well as TeL, her academic interests are in entrepreneurial leadership and virtual teams.