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21 May 2020

4 ways the right academic research platform can help librarians, students and faculty collaborate and thrive in a digital higher ed world

Online education isn’t new, however the social distancing required by the coronavirus pandemic means digital learning is growing exponentially. Whenever the new normal returns, it is clear the landscape of digital learning will be changed moving forward. Many students may find they prefer the convenience and flexibility offered by digital courses. But to deliver fluid online learning experiences, academic institutions will need to adapt programs to meet educational needs and provide appropriate resources to facilitate digital learning and academic research.

Considerations when modifying academic programs

Before we dig into the tools that students need to succeed with online education, let’s look at three areas that experts say universities can put in place to facilitate learning: Course standardization, creating a Community of Inquiry and greater librarian involvement.

  1. Standardization of courses within programs can help students learn to navigate this new educational terrain more quickly. Students’ attention should be focused on understanding course material, not on figuring out where to access different segments of that material and remembering how to find it for each individual class. With a standardized approach, students can readily find readings, assignments, contact information, discussion boards, and any other resources associated with ANY class, allowing for smooth transitions that keep their focus where it belongs: on their education, not its organization.
  2. Creating a Community of Inquiry represents another way to deliver a more engaging and collaborative environment. Research has shown that students who do not have a sense of connection find online education experiences less enjoyable and more frustrating. When a strong sense of community is established, however, students say it enhances learning and gives them a greater sense of satisfaction. Developing a robust Community of Inquiry helps to make up for the loss of traditional classroom experience, allowing the students to play a greater role in their own learning and in the education of their peers through discussion and collaborative work.
  3. Librarian involvement has always been a critical component in students’ academic success, particularly for research-heavy course. As online learning expands, librarians will need to implement strategies that allow them to continue to provide vital support in helping students develop research skills that can take them through their academic experience and serve them well in their post-college careers. Several simple interventions can support this transition, such as providing an introductory video with the librarians contact information to “personalize” the experience and creating a discussion board for general research questions. Setting aside time for students to individually talk with librarians about their work has also proven useful for students, although such an approach requires more time than other methods.

Benefits of a research platform like Nexis Uni® in digital academia

When it comes to invaluable collaboration tools for academic research, Nexis Uni leads the way. Here are four big advantages of the Nexis Uni research solution.

  1. Designed specifically to meet the needs and expectations of digital natives, Nexis Uni brings together a premium collection of credible sources for scholarly research in a platform that facilitates discovery—for novice and skilled researchers alike. In addition to user guided search forms that helps students get off to a quick start on research projects, Nexis Uni offers powerful pre-and post-search filters, allowing students to quickly narrow search results based on the source of the material, the category, the topic, and more. Plus, built in citation tools help students become familiar with different citations standards that they’ll use throughout their academic careers.
  2. Personalization is an important component of satisfying student experiences, and Nexis Uni delivers. Students can self-register for an ID and password—saving librarians time in the process. Once students register, they can personalize their academic research experience, with alert set-up, saved searches and folders. Nexis Uni also offers discipline-focused pages provide students with instant access to relevant sources, searches, and topics.
  3. For ongoing and long-term research, students can create alerts to inform them of new material available on their research topics, at the frequency they choose. Alerts can also be shared, allowing students to work together on group projects more easily—even if they’re in virtual classrooms rather than on campus.
  4. Nexis Uni enables more collaboration features, including shared work folders and document annotation capabilities, allowing students to conduct research individually, add comments to the documents discovered and then share their findings with fellow students. Faculty members benefit from this collaborative environment as well, since it allows them to easily see the participation level of individual students on team assignments.   

And because Nexis Uni features a responsive site design, students can access this powerful academic research tool on their preferred device—desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Ready to see how Nexis Uni can help your university make the transition to a social distancing-friendly, virtual learning leader? Contact a rep today!