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September 14, 2022 • 1 minute read
By: Mike Hale, Ph.D., Chief Learning and Content Officer

VitalSource has long been committed to increasing student success through easy access to affordable content. We also believe that if you can, you must improve learning for students and expand educational opportunities for all learners. Of course, we are not alone in this view and it is the reason many companies have built assessment-rich course materials. 

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Blog > Cut down on student distractions with Assigned Readings

March 14, 2017 • 2 minute read

Cut down on student distractions with Assigned Readings

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In my last post, I talked about how we at VitalSource are constantly reaching out to students in an effort to solicit feedback and understand challenges they face while reading their assignments or studying specific materials. Our solution to students faced with confusion over their homework was a new feature allowing for looking up content in Wikipedia.

Today, I want to talk about a new feature created based on faculty feedback.

When we asked faculty “what is your favorite feature in Bookshelf” we were told repeatedly that it was our ability to deep link content. Deep linking allows faculty to link students to the exact page, section, or paragraph of an assignment. However, we received that answer with overwhelmingly “but” attached to it. That “but” was that while linking students to the beginning of assigmments was great, they need to be able to mark an end point too.

Faculty were looking for a way to customize the student learning experience. They wanted to assign sections 1.2, 1.4, and 2.3 without having their student break focus from the reading by having to navigate around the textbook to find those pieces. That additional navigation was causing trouble for some students, who found staying focused on the specific readings for an assignment tricky. Distractions are common, and if you see something interesting, the next thing you know, you are down a rabbit hole and have wasted precious study time. While we appreciate and encourage such intellectual curiousity, it can be counterproductive to the task at hand.

With this feedback from faculty, and knowledge of our students, VitalSource has come up with a solution: Assigned Readings.

Assigned Readings are designed for instructors to create and customize discrete chunks of content for students. These readings take into account how faculty design their courses and go beyond “Read Chapter One” by providing both a start and an end point as well as a reading goal to add focus, and a sense of completion, to the student reading experience. This study tool tracks progress and allows students to complete their assignments in a view designed to reduce distractions and optimize the time spent learning.

Using Assigned Readings as a student is easy. From your learning management system (i.e. BlackBoard, Canvas, Moodle, D2L, etc.), students simply click on the link to the assignment, which allows them to view your assignment. While within an assignment, the user is constrainted to the content rendered. The notebook contains just the notes and highlights within this particular assignment. Search also only searches the specific assignment. This feature is about staying focused.

If a user wishes to view items outside of the assignment (the full book, full notebook, a full search, etc.), this can be done easily by minimizing the assignment reader within the app, and resuming the experience at any time.

We spent a great deal of time developing this tool for faculty and students. The features are based on feedback from our users and analytical research around how instructors build their course curriculum. Assigned Readings is designed to help with that process with student usage behavior in mind. The Bookshelf Online team is sure assigned readings will help make reading and study sessions much more productive and we welcome feedback as you start to use the feature.

Assigned Readings are available in Bookshelf Online now.

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