Posts Tagged ‘shibboleth’
Someone asked me the other day whether it was possible to measure the impact of online subscription resources on levels of achievement, and I must admit that I stumbled a bit in trying to reply. I have methods of measuring the success (or otherwise) of marketing strategies based on increased usage, but how can we prove whether online collections such as Infotrac, the EBSCO resources, Issues Online etc… are helping our pupils achieve and maybe even increasing their grades?
My first thought is why do we assess online resources in a different manner to print resources? They are all effectively the same thing and aimed at the same task, the only discernable difference is that the online resources can seem to be “hidden” away, invisible, non-existant almost and have a different access method.
In libraries it is possible to identify “top readers”; i.e. those that have a high borrowing rate and are a regular in the library. In a lot of cases, this will be the same studious pupil who will get excellent grades and be up there with the highest achievers. Knowing how much they have read whilst in school leads to the conclusion that it must have contributed to their achievement, but the degree of which cannot be accurately measured. Now, how can we find our “top readers” of our online resources? Assessing impact in this manner is tricky and time-consuming unless an authentication service such as Athens or Shibboleth is utilised. Both of which can provide usage statistics per individual. There is no way of identifying the individual using IP authentication or Referring URL and therefore other techniques must be adopted.
But what else is there? If using Referring URL authentication, the link to the resource must be embedded elsewhere; behind another form of identification provided by the school. You could also do this for those resources which are IP Authenticated. So, although I haven’t yet tried it, it should be possible to at least identify which pupils regularly visit the page containing the links to your online resources and, from this, identify your top online readers. A bit convoluted I know, but it should still be possible.
I’m sure there are many other techniques out there for measuring the impact of subscription resources on levels of achievement. Pupil questionnaires, focus groups, observations, teacher feedback all spring to mind. Any other suggestions?