"Indispensible, much better than using Google" was a comment about EEVL, the Internet guide to engineering, mathematics and computing, from one FE Tutor who attended an RSC (Regional Support Centre) event last year. It is not surprising that he was enthusiastic as there is a great deal of content in EEVL of interest to staff and students in Further Education (FE). In fact, EEVL has a surprisingly wide appeal, as was recognised recently by Schoolzone, a service which features Web sites reviewed by UK teachers. Schoolzone "Highly Recommends" EEVL as a site of "special educational merit".
What exactly does EEVL provide which is relevant to practitioners in Further Education? Firstly, some general information about the service. EEVL provides access to the foremost engineering, mathematics and computing information on the Internet. It is a free service specifically designed to meet the needs of students and staff in Higher and Further Education. EEVL provides a number of services designed to make locating information on the Internet quicker, easier and more productive.
Of particular interest to those in FE are the following:
Industry News and Job Announcements
OneStep Industry News and OneStep Jobs announcements are two new EEVL services, launched in November 2003. OneStep Industry News gathers industry news data (in the form of RSS Feeds) from top sources, aggregates these sources together, and provides a searchable and browsable interface. The overall aim is to give an easy means of monitoring a range of useful sources with minimum effort, hence the name 'OneStep'. OneStep Industry News contains the latest news items available from a range of content providers - not their full content, which is available in one-click from the source sites. OneStep Jobs gathers job announcements from top sources and delivers results in a very similar way. In addition to 'intermingling' results from each source, subject cluster views of sources are available, and items from individual sources can also be viewed.
Trade news can be very important for those studying or teaching engineering and computing in FE, as they often need to keep up with industrial trends and the latest products, developments, and commercial announcements. Most of the news announcements included in OneStep Industry News are specific to particular trades or industrial sectors, and/or are produced by trade publications, unlike the items which appear in the more widely known news announcement services, which also often focus only on financial concerns. In addition to the OneStep Industry News service, EEVL also highlights other news sources of interest in Latest News in Engineering, Latest News in Mathematics and Statistics, and Latest News in Computing.
Job announcements are important for anyone looking for work or a new job, but particularly those in FE, who are often studying on a short-term or part-time basis. EEVL's OneStep Jobs service makes it possible to scan the very latest vacancies from a number of recruitment agencies, thus making the task of job searching so much easier than having to visit numerous sites individually.
Sources for the OneStep services include: e4engineering.com, Buildingtalk, Manufacturingtalk, Electronicstalk, Nature - Materials Update, Moreover, LTSN Engineering, LTSN Materials, the Institute of Physics (Optics.org News, Fibers.org News, Nanotechweb.org News, Compoundsemiconductor.net News), scenta, LTSN Maths, The Register, Slashdot, Nanodot, general technology newsfeeds such as BBC Tech News and CNN Technology, Jobsite, theengineerjobs.co.uk, jobs.ac.uk, Nanotechweb.org Jobs, and Perl Jobs. More sources will be added in the future.
Trade journals feature in other parts of EEVL. It is possible to subscribe, free, to a number of print trade journals through an arrangement with TradePub. There are no hidden or trial offers, and no purchase is necessary. Publications are absolutely free to those who qualify (though it should be noted that some are only available to qualifying individuals in the US). Titles which might interest those in FE, and which are available to those in the UK as well as elsewhere, include: Water & Wastewater International, Advanced Packaging, Control Solutions International, BioProcess International and Marine Log.
It is also worth noting that some trade journals likely to be of interest to FE are indexed by EEVL's Engineering E-journal Search Engine, which searches the full text of over 100 engineering e-journals.
Web Tutorials for FE
There are five Virtual Training Suite (VTS) Web tutorials available via EEVL which are specifically aimed at FE. These are:
- Engineering (General and Automotive)
- Information and Communication Technology
- Internet for Maths & Adult Numeracy
- Internet for Health and Safety at Work
These, plus other VTS tutorials, are listed on EEVL's Web Tutorials page. The VTS is a popular national initiative designed to teach internet information skills to the higher and further education communities in the UK. The tutorials offer a subject-based approach to internet skills training, with the VTS for FE tutorials listed above including only those resources likely to be of interest to those in FE.
Evaluated Web sites in subjects relevant to FE
EEVL's core service is the Internet Resource Catalogue of quality evaluated Web sites. This contains details of over 10,000 resources in engineering, mathematics and computing which have been chosen by subject specialists and listed by subject area and resource type. All sites are regularly checked for currency, and new sites are added every day. The Catalogue can be searched or browsed, and many of the browse headings map well to subjects taught within FE. Examples include:
Aerospace and Defence Engineering.
Chemical Engineering, included in which is Chemical Process Operations and Chemica Plant.
Civil Engineering, including Construction and Building Engineering and Transportation and Planning.
Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, including Electronics Engineering.
Manufacturing Engineering, including Manufacturing Operation and Systems and Product Design and Development
Materials Engineering, including Construction and Building Materials, Metals, Metallurgy and Corrosion and Polymers, Ceramics and Composites
Mechanical Engineering and Related Industries, including Automotive Engineering and Naval and Marine Engineering.
General Mathematics Resources, General Mathematics Education, including Psychology of and Research in Mathematics Education, Education and Instruction in Mathematics, and Educational Material and Media and Educational Technology .
Computing Milieux, included in which are The Computer Industry, History of Computing, Computers and Education, Computers and Society, Legal Aspects of Computing, Management of Computing and Information Systems, The Computing Profession and Personal Computing.
All of the resources in the Internet Resource Catalogue have been allocated resource types to indicate their content, and many of these resource types are likely to be of particular interest to those in FE. Examples include:
All the above resource types can be further sub-divided by subject: Engineering, Mathematics and Computing. In addition, there is a list of Further Education resources in the Internet Resource Catalogue, and also a list of resources specifically of interest toYoung Engineers.
EEVL's Key Sites are core resources - only resources which are particularly important or are of outstanding quality are designated Key Sites. These are indicated by the Key Site logo on search result lists, and catalogues of key sites in Engineering, Mathematics and Computing are also available. Also of use for those more specific subject enquiries are separate Web site search engines for Engineering, Mathematics and Computing. Using these gives more focused results than the more general search engines such as Google.
It is as well to note that the Internet Resource Catalogue contains details of Web sites which may, or may not, be of specific interest to those in FE. Some resources can easily be identified as being specifically of interest to FE. In other cases, for example with respect to recruitment agencies, product directories, e-journals, news sites and company sites, there may be content of interest, and some content which is not of interest.
Learning & Teaching Catalogue
EEVL provides a catalogue of learning and teaching resources for engineering, evaluated by academic staff. These are mostly HE-ased, but some may be of interest to FE. The service is called SearchLT.
Case Studies for Further Education
A series of studies on how the resources in EEVL can be incorporated into teaching and learning materials have been developed in collaboration with FE practitioners. These are listed at the RDN Case Studies: EEVL page. Topics include The Impact of ICT on Society, The Role of New Technology in Engineering and Statistical Data on the Web.
Publications of relevance to Further Education
There are three EEVL booklets which have been particularly popular with FE. These booklets describe a selection of the leading Internet Resources in Engineering, Internet Resources in Mathematics, and Internet Resources in Computing. Sadly, printed copies have run out, and current funding limitations do not permit a reprint, but pdf versions are available from EEVL's Publications page.
Much of the above is detailed in EEVL's What Can EEVL Do For You: Further Education information sheet. Copies of this sheet are currently being distributed to relevant institutions by the RSCs, and a pdf version is available from the EEVL Publications page.
Future plans and Further Education
Plans for the future EEVL service include several features of interest to FE. The Subject Portal Project (SPP) has been developing portal functionality for five of the subject Hubs of the Resource Discovery Network (RDN), including EEVL. Although SPP was aimed specifically at HE, this does not mean that the services resulting from it, if funded and implemented, will not be relevant to FE.
In particular, SPP is developing e-journal search engines which will provide more functionality than EEVL's current Engineering E-journal Search Engine, and these might include landscapes (pre-selected targets) which feature only trade journals or titles of particular relevance to FE.
Another area that the SPP is working on is a cross-search portlet which could be implemented as a Hub service allowing cross-searching of selected databases of interest. Databases which have been identified as being of relevance to FE (to which some FE institutions at present subscribe), include: Abstracts in New Technology and Engineering (ANTE), Weldasearch, info4 education, ESDU, RAM, Wiley Electonic Reference Works, Applied Science and Technology Index (ASTI), and Barbour Index Construction Expert. Some, including info4education and Wiley Electonic Reference Works, are full text services, and many of the others are developing improved links to full text. SPP could also make it possible to create relevant default landscapes just for those registering from FE.
Other plans include improving the OneStep services through the inclusion of more sources, and possibly new OneStep services specifically for product news or professional society news.
The Resource Discovery Network (RDN) has initiated a project which will add over 14,000 records of relevance to Further Education, by 2005. A proportion of these records will come to EEVL, and will enhance the records we already have. Ideally, and this is the plan, the records tagged as being of interest to FE will be readily identifiable in the EEVL Catalogue.
EEVL is the Internet guide to Engineering, Mathematics and Computing. It is an award-winning free service, which provides quick and reliable access to the best engineering, mathematics, and computing information available on the Internet. It is created and run by a team of information specialists from a number of universities and institutions in the UK, lead by Heriot Watt University. EEVL helps students, staff and researchers in higher and further education, as well as anyone else working, studying or looking for information in Engineering, Mathematics and Computing. It is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) through the RDN.