Open resources: a win for the student and the college library
South Staffordshire College has signed up for the Kortext Open Resources Collection (KORC) to provide its students with access to 10,000 free academic publications through Kortext’s smart study platform.
Serving over 10,000 students each year across five college locations, South Staffordshire College is focused on careers not courses, providing students with state-of-the-art facilities and teaching from expert staff who support them in creating their future careers.
The college library is at the forefront, helping to shape the student experience, and chose to adopt Kortext’s curated collection of Open Access (OA) publications and Open Educational Resources (OERs) to reduce the financial burden on both the library and students, and to enhance their reading lists. With the cost-of-living crisis bearing a weight on both student and institutions, the availability of quality learning content that students can access for free is both timely and invaluable.
The KORC, offered in partnership with Jisc, the UK’s digital body for education and research, is available through the Kortext Arcturus platform for FE colleges as part of a 12-month pilot. The collection supports a broad range of subjects from arts, business, and environment all the way through to information technology, engineering and English literature.
Discovering the Kortext Open Resources Collection
After hearing about the collection in a Jisc newsletter, Steve Wileman, Head of Digital Learning at South Staffordshire College, did his own research to find out more. Steve said:
The college is a member of Jisc, so I started looking into the collection at an early stage when it was first announced in a Jisc newsletter. I carried out some background research, getting in touch with Kortext to understand more about the collection and the titles included and I saw some good books in there which made up my mind.
Ease of set up
The college recently made the move from Shibboleth to OpenAthens, which wasn’t without its challenges. Kortext worked closely with the college library to understand their needs and challenges and proactively engaged with OpenAthens to make sure the set up was a success and students could access the collection easily.
The set-up process was supported every step of the way by a dedicated Account Manager who kept the college informed and was always on hand to answer any queries.
Our Account Manager didn’t let anything drop and turned around deadlines at the drop of a hat – he has a great deal of energy and the passion for what he does, and I can’t thank him more greatly for his support.
Driving awareness with staff and students
The college library chose to communicate the availability of the Kortext Open Resources Collection and their new OpenAthens access together, arranging college-delivered awareness sessions with staff as well as creating a CPD webpage explaining how to access the collection through OpenAthens. To assist, Kortext provided how-to guides and recorded a Kortext awareness session with 33 members of college staff, to be included on this webpage.
In addition, to encourage usage of the collection by students, Kortext will shortly be delivering student facing sessions to promote the collection and the interactive study tools that students can use within the Kortext Arcturus platform to enhance their learning experience.
“A lot of our students go into higher education and apprenticeships,” said Steve, “and we’re already seeing the books in the collection being used with Kortext’s study features like highlighting and citation, which are really useful to prepare our students for the next step in their education.
“And our library is reaping the benefits too. Our staff are finding titles in the collection that align to our reading lists, so we can direct students to their course reading for free. We’re then asking Kortext to quote for any books not available in the collection so we can benefit from their competitive pricing and our students can continue to use their platform’s study tools.”
A link to Kortext also appears on the college’s main website and on the front interface of the college app, for a seamless student journey.
Whilst there has been some trepidation in the industry about commercial aggregators like Kortext delivering OER collections, Steve had no reservations.
As a corporate organisation, Kortext has been more supportive and proactive than many of the other eBook collections we’ve worked with. They’ve engaged with us from initial enquiry all the way through set up and even helped us with our awareness campaign for staff and students which is a major strength.
For a corporate, they offer a personal touch which we haven’t experienced with other organisations. I can’t value their input enough.
If your college is a member of Jisc and you would like your students to benefit from free access to the Kortext Open Resources Collection, please visit https://www.kortext.com/jisc-fe-kortext-open-resources-collection/ for more information and to register your interest.