A child choosing sweets in a sweet shop.

It is the 10th anniversary of our Blackboard and VLE Awards this year, so some changes have been introduced. There are now ten categories that a course can be nominated in, one of which is for ‘Best use of external resources and reading lists‘. In this blog post, we will explore some of the external resources that you could make use of, and discuss electronic reading lists.

The importance of labelling and contextual information

When incorporating external resources in your online learning environment, please ensure that you label them clearly. You may also indicate how much time students can expect to spend on them. You should also tell students what you expect them to do with the resources. Other points to consider include:

  • Are they essential or additional resources?
  • Are some of them alternatives to each other?

Consider how much content you are sharing with your students – too much and they may feel overwhelmed; too little and they may feel unsupported.

External resources

External resources are any resources that we haven’t produced ourselves at the University of Southampton. There are many resources that we subscribe to that support the learning of our students. Most of these can be embedded in a VLE or linked to. However, it’s possible that the University offers appropriate resources that you’re unaware of, but which could be used to supplement your existing resources.

BoB – Box of Broadcasts – on demand TV and radio for education

A man wearing headphones looking at a laptop. The BoB logo is next to him.

Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is an online TV catch up service. All staff and students can record and watch back programmes from over 75 free-to-air channels, as well as search through an archive of over 2.2 million past broadcasts dating back to the 1970s. BoB also contains BBC Shakespeare Archive content dating back to the 1950s. The channels include BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, ITV, Channel 4, Film4 and more. There are also 10 foreign language channels, with programming in Italian, French and German.

As a web-based service, BoB is available on all devices. This makes it easy to embed content in the VLE. You can create your own playlists, clips and clip compilations. This makes it easy to narrow down a particular section of a broadcast that you want your students to watch. You can also view other people’s playlists. Learning on Screen have a growing list of BoB curated playlists on a wide range of topics.

If you see a programme whilst watching Freeview television and want to incorporate it into your teaching, it is possible to retrospectively request a programme.

Although BoB allows you to search programme transcripts and subtitles, it’s not always easy to locate the programmes that you are searching for. I would recommend using TRILT (the Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching). Once you have signed in, you can filter your search to only show programmes that are available on BoB.

One feature of BoB that students particularly appreciate is that it has one-click citations for easy academic referencing.

LinkedIn Learning (also known as LiL)

The LinkedIn Learning logo: the word 'in' in blue next to the word 'learning'. This is one of the external resources available to staff and students at the University of Southampton.

LinkedIn Learning is an online library that teaches the latest software tools and a wide range of workplace and productivity skills through high-quality instructional videos taught by recognised industry experts.

All students and staff at the University of Southampton have full, free, unlimited access to all the online tutorials in the library. You can access courses using a browser. However, there are apps for iOS, Android and Windows that may give you a better experience.

There are over 16,000 LinkedIn Learning courses available. When you’re starting out, finding the ‘right’ one can be a challenge. At the University of Southampton, you can view recommended courses on our dedicated SharePoint site. This site allows users to go to recommended courses relating to your school or department as well as covering employability and study skills; MS Office; coding, data science and statistics; and art, design, audio and video.


The Kanopy login screen.

Kanopy is a video-streaming platform dedicated to thoughtful and thought-provoking films, established to provide academic institutions with essential films that foster learning and conversation. In 2016, Kanopy expanded its services to public libraries. It now delivers a diverse collection of 30,000+ enriching films, available to stream anytime and anywhere.

Kanopy provides each participating public library and university with a dedicated and customisable website through which members can stream films. The service has features such as captions, transcripts, clip creation, and playlist creation that allow users to share videos.

Kanopy is viewable on a computer, mobile device, or television via a web browser supporting HTML5 video or the Kanopy app for Amazon Fire Tablet and Fire Stick, Android, Apple iOS, and Roku. You need to create a personal account to access Kanopy through either the mobile or TV apps. Creating an account on Kanopy will also allow you to save videos to your Watchlist to view later, create clips and curate playlists.

Kanopy includes a wide range of categories for you to browse, or you can search for specific films. There are also topics within categories in Kanopy, such as ‘History of pandemic and diseases’.

JoVE – Journal of Visualized Experiments

The Journal of Video Experiments logo.

JoVE publishes videos of scientific experiments from the top laboratories around the globe. By allowing scientists, educators and students to see the intricate details of cutting-edge experiments rather than read them in text articles, JoVE increases STEM research productivity and student learning, saving their institutions time and money.

JoVE creates scientific videos for research and education. JoVE Education has three parts:

  • Science Education
  • Lab Manual – concepts and protocols for common introductory labs in biology and chemistry
  • Core – video textbook that introduces foundational concepts

Educators and students can use the video collections in the JoVE Science Education Library to teach and learn key concepts and fundamental techniques at undergraduate level. These simple, easy-to-understand video demonstrations cover a wide range of STEM subjects including Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Psychology, Clinical Medicine and Engineering.

JoVE’s Customer Success team can create a playlist of JoVE videos mapped to your course syllabus or lab training programme. These playlists are easy to share with others, or to edit according to your needs.

All JoVE Science Education videos are accompanied by a short set of quiz questions, which you can use to test students’ engagement and comprehension. You can also add questions of your own.


A mobile phone screen with the YouTube logo (a red play button) on it.
Photo by Szabó Viktor on Pexels.com

It is easy and straightforward to embed YouTube videos in Blackboard and other VLEs; the challenge is finding the right videos! You may find this list of educational YouTube channels helpful. As videos may be taken down from YouTube for a variety of reasons, ensure that students know how to alert you to broken links.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

UNESCO Global Open Educational Resources Logo - some hands coming our of a book.

Open educational resources are freely accessible, openly licensed instructional materials. They include text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching and learning. 

There are many places where you can find OERs:


A mobile phone on a laptop with the word podcast on their screens.

A podcast is a digital audio file that can be downloaded to a device such as a smartphone or laptop for a person to listen to. Most podcasts are episodic series. You may recommend an entire series to students or select an episode that is relevant.

Many students appreciate podcasts as they can listen to them at the same time as doing other activities such as commuting. They are also handy for students who want to revise away from a screen.

There are many locations and apps where you can search for relevant podcasts (such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify Podcasts). Alternatively, you can use an aggregated search such as Listen notes.

Electronic reading lists

The University of Southampton has invested in electronic reading list software (Talis Aspire), which makes it easy for you to create (and maintain) an online reading list. Adding books, articles, webpages, and audio-visual material couldn’t be easier.  The online reading list allows you to capture bibliographical data across the web automatically – no need to manually enter the data.  It’s quick to update, manage and structure, and importantly, it gives direct feedback and learning analytics – showing you the levels of student engagement, helping you shape and develop your module content.  It’s also a direct and efficient way for you to order library resources and request digitised extracts, saving valuable time.  

The resources can be grouped by week (or topic) – with subsections if required – to reflect how your Blackboard course is organised. Add additional comments and guidance to make it clear to students what you want them to do with the resources. Make it clear which resources are “essential” and which are “additional”.  

Not only is maintaining an online reading list helpful for your students, but it also gives the library clear visibility of the resources on your reading list to ensure they are properly resourced, and students have access to their key readings. Reading lists can be accessed on any device and are fully accessible. 

Find out more about nominating in the Blackboard and VLE Awards.

Good use of external resources and reading lists

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