RIT students no longer need to haul around overstuffed backpacks to show they are on top of their required class readings.
They now can use a tool called BookBag, which allows faculty, students and staff to share information on a social bookmarking site designed specifically for the RIT community.
“It’s a tool that will continue to push more active learning and content-centered conversations,” says Patricia Albanese, librarian emeritus and a member of the BookBag development team.
BookBag became available to the RIT campus last fall after more than a year of development. About 600 people have used it since its initial launch.
A professor or student can find a news story, article or publication online and add it to a class in BookBag so everyone in the class can click on it, read it and comment.
“There are other social bookmarking applications in higher education, but what is unique about BookBag is that it automatically knows course enrollment,” says Chandra McKenzie, assistant provost for academic affairs.
BookBag also allows searching in the RIT libraries catalog to get real-time information about the availability of books. This library connection also provides information about resources available at libraries off-campus. If students are at home, it points them to the closest library that has the book based on their ZIP code.
Michael Riordan, a member of the development team and lecturer in the School of Print Media, has been using it in his classes. He says, as an educator, it can be challenging getting up-do-date course materials, and this is a way to stay current. The posting and commenting also allow students to interact with each other outside of the classroom.
For example, in his Digital Foundations course, where students learn about the fundamentals of imaging, type and production workflow, students posted stories about font licensing and justified typography. A posted link to an interactive website allowed students to play with the space between letters to learn about kerning.
“In the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences there are a lot of visual learners,” Riordan says. “The ability to link to other video-based resources is profound and the ability to share that resource is terrific.”
To use BookBag, go to bookbag.rit.edu. Enter your RIT username and password, and data from your courses will be loaded. Follow the “How to Use BookBag” information on the right side of the page. RIT community members who aren’t enrolled in classes can also use BookBag, in an area called “personal BookBag,” to store links to online articles or resources.