Course Materials Centralized Online
Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 18 - January 25, 1996
In January 1995, University Libraries began an experiment to provide faculty members and students with 24-hour access to course materials. Since then a growing number of faculty members and students have had access to these EReserve materials from anywhere in the university or local community, including the growing number of workstations in computer labs around campus and the University Libraries, of course.
Through the Faculty Development Institutes, teaching faculty members learned to create Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The distinct advantage of PDF is that course materials retain their original look, whether prepared or accessed on Mac or IBM systems, using most software programs. These "platform-independent" files do not require that students have the same software that the faculty member used to create the materials. Instead, the Acrobat Reader is available free of charge on the Internet. This spring semester, for the first time faculty members can also use EReserve to convert their course materials to PDF files. (John Eaton, associate dean of the Graduate School, recently announced that PDF will also be the standard format for electronic theses and dissertations, most likely beginning fall 1996.)
In addition to PDF files, University Libraries now offers teaching faculty members two additional options to provide students with electronic course materials. EReserve will provide accounts and disk space from which faculty members can create and manage web pages for their courses. And, EReserve will provide links to faculty web pages located on servers other than the libraries'.
For the first time, students will be able to access all their electronic course materials from one location (http://reserve.lib.vt.edu), University Libraries Electronic Reserve.
EReserve gives faculty members and students unrestricted access all day, every day to course materials, unlike the library Reserve Desk where students can check-out course materials only when the library is open.
Using the Internet from homes or offices, faculty members can add course materials at any time throughout the semester. Students can also access them almost immediately through the World Wide Web to print, download, or browse online from both on and off campus at any time of the day or night.
The library offers these options in its long-standing mission to improve its services to both faculty and students. EReserve began as an experiment of the Scholarly Communications Project and is now moving into the growing list of online library services available to the university community at http://www.lib.vt.edu.
To add your name to the growing list of faculty members providing their students with 24-hour Internet access to course materials, use Netscape (or another World Wide Web browser) to locate EReserve at http://reserve.lib.vt.edu. If you have questions, please contact Brenda Pratt, head of the Libraries' Reserve Unit (firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-9208), or Gail McMillan, director of the Scholarly Communications Project (email@example.com, 1-9252).