Impact and Embedding - British History Online as a Case Study

Impact and Embedding image

JISC is funding British History Online to investigate the use of digital online resources in Higher Education, with a particular focus on British History Online itself. The funding comes from JISC's 'Impact and Embedding' programme.

This project has two phases. The first was a rapid analysis of the current usage of digital historical resources within UK Higher Education. This was carried out via a battery of interviews, focus groups and surveys, at the same time as a detailed quantitative study of British History Online's rich collection of site-specific data. This phase involved:

  • Quantitative analysis
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Production of a framework for prioritising new features
  • Publication of the rapid analysis

The second phase will be to derive from the analysis a prioritised list of enhancements that can or should be made to British History Online's tools and features. The most appropriate and effective changes will then be made to the site. This second phase requires:

  • Prioritisation of the new features
  • Deployment of the selected features
  • Collation of statistics on changes to usage
  • Publication of the case study

The IHR is particularly well placed to carry out this work because it has built up longitudinal data on the use of online resources by carrying out three benchmarking studies into current use. The Impact and Embedding project is broadening this analysis by including a more detailed investigation into certain areas, such as teaching practice.

Update, December 2010

We received a wonderful response to our online survey from users of British History Online, and from History subject librarians. We would like to thank all of those who took the trouble to complete the survey, as well as those academics and postgraduates who attended our focus groups or allowed us to interview them about their work.

This tremendous response has left us with a great deal of data to analyse, and we will continue to examine it over the coming months. However, from the rapid analysis phase of the project we are able to conclude that the site enhancements most useful to our users would be:

  • Cool URIs - these are stable and meaningful URIs, that reflect the underlying content.
  • Extra citation and download formats - these will allow users to cite British History Online in particular citation formats.
  • Folksonomies and shared tagging facilities - the ability to share tags between users.
  • Screencasts - brief video tutorials focusing on site content or features.

Update, April 2011

This project was completed in March 2011. The following reports are available in SAS-Space:

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