Monday, September 15, 2008

Linking to library resources in Vista

The first part of this post is for faculty setting up courses in Vista; the second part is for students in courses in Vista.

Faculty: if you'd like to set up links to library resources right in Vista, it's not that hard, but there are some tricks. First, check out my linking guide on the Distance Education Library website. That gives instructions for most of the library databases. (And if you find any problems, let me know.)

Second, test your links from off campus. You really won't know if there is a problem until someone tries is from off campus. At the very least, test your links in a different browser (like Firefox if you are using Internet Explorer to use Vista.) That assures you that there isn't some session cookie set to allow you into the site, but that will prevent someone else (like a student) from getting in.

Third, be sure to check the "Open in New Window" box when entering your web links in Vista. It's just under the box that you enter the URL into. This version of Vista does not allow cookies to be set within it's "frame", and therefore will prevent students from logging into the library databases. By forcing links to open in a new window, you avoid this problem completely. If you have already set up some links, just go to the WebLinks component in Build, and edit each link until they all set to open in new windows.

Fourth, if possible, don't make a library article the first entry in a learning module. When a student clicks into a learning module, the first entry is the one that comes up first. If you have a library article as the first thing, the student has to wait for the article or the log in screen to come up, even if they have already read it. It generally works much better to have a explanation or summary screen here. (The quickest way to make a simple summary screen is to write something up in Word, then Save As Web Page. Upload the file to Vista and add it as the first entry (Add file) to the Learning module. By saving as a webpage, you'll make it come up faster for the students.)

Fifth, provide a full citation for the article, just in case something in the above steps goes wrong. The description field would be a good place for this. If you don't have the full citation, or don't want to give it for some reason, at least put the name of the database somewhere, possibly at the end of the article title:
Individual study, interactive multimedia, or cooperative learning: Which activity best supplements lecture-based distance education? (PsycArticles)

Students: If your professor has put in a link to an article in a library database, you will need to log into the databases if you are off campus. You'll need your ID number and your library PIN. (See Off Campus Access for more info.) You should only need to log in once unless you close your browser or don't do anything for several hours.

If you see a note in the Vista screen that the page has opened in a new window, but you don't see anything, check if the article has opened in a new window behind your Vista one. Depending on your browser settings, it might also open in a new tab if you use a tabbed browser (Firefox, Opera, IE7, etc.)

If you see the database login screen within the Vista frame (so that the Vista banner is at the top and the login is on the same page) you may have trouble logging in. Open a new window or tab (File Menu -- New Window or New Tab; or Ctrl-N (new window)/Ctrl-T (new tab) in most browsers), and go to the library databases. Log in as you normally would. Without closing the database window, go back to the Vista window and try accessing the article again. You might have to go back to the course homepage, or to the beginning of the learning module. As long as you are logged into the databases in the background window, the article should come up.

If you can't use the article link in Vista at all, see if your professor has including the citation to the article somewhere. Maybe in the syllabus, a reading list, or in the little note field under the article link. If not, ask for it or for which database it's in. When you get the citation, use the Journal Locator (under Find Articles on the library home page) to look up the journal title (not the article title!) Check which database has the right year, and click through to that database. You should either be able to pick the needed year off the list, then go into the individual issues (like looking at tables of contents) or do a search for the article title and/or author. If you have the name of the database, then just do a search within that database for the article title and/or author.

I hope this clears up the problems we've been having with linking to the library resources from Vista.

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