Prettifying the reading list.

I am indebted to my colleague Paul Stainthorp for this ingenious mash up of Refworks and Amazon to create something that almost (but not exactly) resembles the old Amazon reading list plug in we used for Blackboard. The plug in used to show bibliographic details and an image of the book cover making reading lists a bit more interesting. The user could click on the image and buy the book from Amazon, or follow a link to the library catalogue (assuming the site owner had put one in). Unfortunately when we upgraded to Bb version 8 the plug in stopped working as the developers hadn’t offered an upgrade

Well the mash up goes one better in that the book title is linked to the library catalogue, and it also offers links to a Refworks folder, Librarything, Google Books and Amazon (but of course!) I should say here  it’s not simple to do – and the method described here is local to the University of Lincoln.  But in the interests of remembering how to do it, I thought I’d set out the method here. Couple of things to remember before you start. You will need a Yahoo Pipes account, and you will need to know your way around Refworks. You also need to have instructor or Teaching Assistant rights on Blackboard.

1) Go to your Blackboard site and click the Refworks Bridge tool (You’ll find it under the Site Tools menu)

2) Create a Refworks account linked to Blackboard (N.B. This will not be synchronised with your main Refworks account) (Need to put instructions about this here) (You only have to do this once – that is not for every site in which you are an instructor. If you’ve already done this ignore this step)

3) Set up a shared folder in the BB refworks account.

4) Add the books to the shared folder. You could use the Refworks Ref-grab-it tool to get the data from Amazon to do this. In fact it is a good idea to do so because the pipe will be calling the ISBN from Amazon in order to display the image.

5) Share your Refworks folder. Ensure that the show RSS feeds check box is ticked and select “50 Most Recently Added References” from the create RSS feeds drop-down box.

6)DO NOT forget to give your folder a Title.

7) Click the URL in the shared folder display, and right click the RSS feed icon. Select “copy shortcut” from the sub menu. (if you’re using IE7 – if you’re using Google Chrome it will say “Copy Link Address”

7 Leave this window open, open a new one and go to Yahoo Pipes

6) If you haven’t already got one create an account for yourself on Yahoo Pipes. If you have, log in to it

7) Search Pipes for “pstainthorp”

8.) select “University of Lincoln Library Booklist”

9) Paste the URL of your shared folder into the Refworks RSS feed and click the “Run Pipe” button

10) Your reading list will be displayed. But you haven’t finished yet. Oh no.

11) Right click the Get as RSS Icon and select “copy shortcut” from the sub menu.

12) Go to the content area of your Blackboard site where you want the reading list to be displayed.

13 Go to Edit View and add external link. Paste the RSS feed you’ve just copied into the URL box.

14) Give the external link a title, and add any comments.

15) Click Submit.

And that is it!