Archive for June, 2010

An introduction to the new Virtual Training Suite tutorials

Monday, June 21st, 2010

We recently launched 30 new and updated Virtual Training Suite tutorials covering a range of academic subjects from architecture to petroleum engineering.

The tutorials aim to teach students about the concept of information literacy and develop their Internet research skills.

A short Slidecast (PowerPoint slides with an audio track) should be embedded below or is available via SlideShare.

The Slidecast introduces the Virtual Training Suite, takes you through the structure of the tutorials with sections on Tour, Discover, Judge and Success, makes some suggestions for how the tutorials could be used with students and talks briefly about future developments.

The screenshots from the presentation are available on Flickr and further updates on the Virtual Training Suite are online at the VTStutorials Twitter channel.

Is there a Virtual Training Suite author near you?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Last week the Virtual Training Suite launched 30 new Internet research skills tutorials covering a range of subjects from Architecture to Women’s Studies and from Allied Health to Petroleum Engineering.

The Virtual Training Suite tutorials are written by subject experts from universities and colleges around the UK.

A Google Map is available that shows you where our authors are based, the tutorials they have written and you can even see what a few of them look like!

Screenshots from the tutorials are available on Flickr and updates about them will appear on the Virtual Training Suite Twitter channel.

New Virtual Training Suite Tutorials

Friday, June 11th, 2010

30 new Internet tutorials for university students have just been released as part of the Virtual Training Suite.

The tutorials teach Internet research skills for degree subjects, and are ideal for students looking for advice and guidance on using the Web for their studies, especially those who:

  • struggle to find the right information for university work.
  • get marked down for citing inappropriate sources in their assignments.
  • rely too heavily on Google, Wikipedia and the open Web, because they are unaware of key academic and library sources.

All the tutorials have been written and reviewed by lecturers and librarians from UK universities, who are experienced Internet researchers.

What’s new?

This year we have completely overhauled the content and design of 50% of our tutorials, as well as introducing some new titles. The new and updated tutorials are:

Why change?

The tutorial content and design have now been completely overhauled in light of Internet developments, in particular the impact of Web 2.0 technologies in higher education (HE); academic Web trends (changes in online academic publishing); and extensive user feedback.

Changes to tutorial content

User feedback indicated a growing recognition of the need to help students develop Internet research skills. It also suggested that helping students to understand peer-review was more important than ever in a Web 2.0 world of user generated content.

We have re-written the tutorial content to reflect this, so the coverage of the four main sections of each tutorial is now as follows:

  1. Tour – focuses on the academic information landscape on the Internet and aims to create a mental map for students of the key scholarly sources for their subject.
  2. Discover – offers updated guidance on how to find scholarly information online; choosing the right search tool and looks at the importance of developing a search strategy.
  3. Judge – discusses how critical thinking can improve the quality of online research and provides guidance on how to judge which Internet resources are appropriate for University work.
  4. Success – provides practical examples of students using the Internet for research – successfully and unsuccessfully, so that students can learn from the mistakes of others, as well as by example.

Changes to tutorial design

We have now made all our tutorials shorter, easier to read online, with more graphics and exercises. Interactive features of each tutorial include quizzes, practical exercises, and a ‘links basket’ functionality which allows the user to keep a record of all website URLs mentioned in the tutorial.

The Virtual Training Suite is continually updated, but these changes reflect a major overhaul, which we hope that you will like.

How can the tutorials be used?

Each tutorial takes around one hour to complete, allowing the user to work through the material in their own time and at their own pace.

Feedback from university staff suggests that they find it useful to point students to the tutorials from course handbooks, VLEs and library web pages. There is also evidence that they are being used to support courses in research methods, study skills and information literacy.

The tutorials are freely available from:

What’s next for the Virtual Training Suite?

Following on from previous announcements about our future:

  • We can confirm that we have received 12 months maintenance funding from August 2010 to assist in moving towards a self-sustaining business model
  • This enables the maintenance of the current suite of over 60 subject based Internet research skills tutorials, keeping them freely available
  • During 2010/11 we will be looking to develop and implement a licensing model to sustain the Virtual Training Suite beyond August 2011

Look out for further developments in the coming months by getting in touch by email at or by following us on Twitter at