Harley, D., Henke, J., Lawrence, S., Miller, I. D., Perciali, I., & Nasatir, D. (2006). Use and Users of Digital Resources: A Focus on Undergraduate Education in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Center for Studies in Higher Education. Berkeley, CA. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.3427445
A “build it and they will come” approach to many university digitization initiatives has precluded systematic investigations of the demand for these resources. Those who fund and develop digital resources have identified the general lack of knowledge about the level and quality of their use in educational settings as pressing concerns.
The purpose of our research was to map the universe of digital resources available to undergraduate educators in a subset of users in the humanities and social sciences (H/SS), and to examine how understanding use and users can benefit the integration of these resources into undergraduate teaching.
Why study users? There are myriad reasons cited for undertaking and conducting user studies. They may range from product design and usability testing, to policing web sites, to facilitating policy and investment decisions. For our purposes there were three interrelated rationales for conducting the present research: (1) addressing questions of strategic planning and investments in digital resource provision and use, (2) identifying the special needs of the humanities and social sciences, particularly as they relate to the future of liberal education in a digital age, and (3) sharing effective strategies for understanding the array of uses and users across a wide variety of educational digital resource initiatives.